Neighbour Abroad Hasn't Been in Contact

My 80+ year old neighbour is currently living in Japan and usually calls us every two weeks to check in on her home that my sister is house sitting for her. The last we heard from her was on the 6th of February. 

A friend has contacted the local police but due to Data Protection they can't tell us anything. They did say they'd send someone round and ask her to call us but that was Monday.
I've had the same response from the UK Embassy/Foreign Office. They can't do anything without her permission, which obviously I can't get.

My concern is that she's unable to call due to being in hospital or may have passed away but there doesn't seem to be any way to find out. Her next of kin is in Japan but we don't have any contact info for them.

Does anyone have any insight into this situation that might help?

Comments

  • Flugelhorn
    Flugelhorn Posts: 5,535 Forumite
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    have you got a phone number for her there? or a means to contact her if there was a problem with the house?

    sounds like you need to get someone in Japan to post a letter from you to her 
  • Chrissytree
    Chrissytree Posts: 62 Forumite
    First Anniversary First Post Combo Breaker
    Yes, we've been trying her number at different times of the day and night with no answer.

    Flugelhorn said:
    have you got a phone number for her there? or a means to contact her if there was a problem with the house?

    sounds like you need to get someone in Japan to post a letter from you to her 

  • Savvy_Sue
    Savvy_Sue Posts: 46,007 Forumite
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    Do you have a name for her next of kin? Bit extreme, but can you find them on Facebook? 
    Signature removed for peace of mind
  • We don't have any information about them at all. The only thing we have is out neighbour's address and phone number out there.
  • Flugelhorn
    Flugelhorn Posts: 5,535 Forumite
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    Yes, we've been trying her number at different times of the day and night with no answer.

    Flugelhorn said:
    have you got a phone number for her there? or a means to contact her if there was a problem with the house?

    sounds like you need to get someone in Japan to post a letter from you to her 

    that is worrying - shame the embassy won't recognise "concern for someone's welfare"
  • Savvy_Sue
    Savvy_Sue Posts: 46,007 Forumite
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    I'm thinking back to the "we've lost Fred" night when my son was inter-railing, many moons ago - three of them, but they'd separated and two of them had lost touch with the third. 

    They hadn't bothered trying to contact local hospitals, because they didn't think they'd be told anything. My feeling was that if a hospital had an unnamed teenager lying on a ward, possibly unconscious, they might appreciate anyone enquiring after their welfare. Even if they couldn't say "yes, we've got Fred here", they might start asking the kind of questions which would indicate that they had someone who MIGHT be Fred lying there. 

    So, there's a series of IFs here ... 
    • If you can identify from her address where the local hospital would be and
    • If you can extract an email address for the hospital
    • Then I would send an email, saying that you know all about data protection, but not having heard from your neighbour you are concerned for her welfare, and if by chance they have her in their care, is it possible for her to be helped to contact you, or for her Next of Kin to receive this message
    I might also try to identify a friendly local Japanese speaking person, via Facebook or NextDoor, who might be able to help you with officialdom. 

    BTW, Fred was fine. But after that, for some reason I always wanted to have names and contact details both for the friends my sons were travelling with, AND for their parents. No, none of them had phone numbers for each other's parents. 

    Oh, and DS had also lost his passport, but he mentioned that as a completely casual afterthought. More concerned about Fred. 
    Signature removed for peace of mind
  • Thanks, that's not something I'd thought of and definitely worth a try. I was wondering if I could get my information to her next of kin somehow and that might work because I'll have given them my permission to pass it on.

    Savvy_Sue said:
    I'm thinking back to the "we've lost Fred" night when my son was inter-railing, many moons ago - three of them, but they'd separated and two of them had lost touch with the third. 

    They hadn't bothered trying to contact local hospitals, because they didn't think they'd be told anything. My feeling was that if a hospital had an unnamed teenager lying on a ward, possibly unconscious, they might appreciate anyone enquiring after their welfare. Even if they couldn't say "yes, we've got Fred here", they might start asking the kind of questions which would indicate that they had someone who MIGHT be Fred lying there. 

    So, there's a series of IFs here ... 
    • If you can identify from her address where the local hospital would be and
    • If you can extract an email address for the hospital
    • Then I would send an email, saying that you know all about data protection, but not having heard from your neighbour you are concerned for her welfare, and if by chance they have her in their care, is it possible for her to be helped to contact you, or for her Next of Kin to receive this message
    I might also try to identify a friendly local Japanese speaking person, via Facebook or NextDoor, who might be able to help you with officialdom. 

    BTW, Fred was fine. But after that, for some reason I always wanted to have names and contact details both for the friends my sons were travelling with, AND for their parents. No, none of them had phone numbers for each other's parents. 

    Oh, and DS had also lost his passport, but he mentioned that as a completely casual afterthought. More concerned about Fred. 

  • theoretica
    theoretica Posts: 12,275 Forumite
    First Post Name Dropper Photogenic First Anniversary
    Data protection - at least in this country - only applies to living people.  So unless it is different in Japan, if she had passed away then they would be able to tell you. Perhaps minor reassurance?
    But a banker, engaged at enormous expense,
    Had the whole of their cash in his care.
    Lewis Carroll
  • Jude57
    Jude57 Posts: 542 Forumite
    First Post First Anniversary Name Dropper
    My 80+ year old neighbour is currently living in Japan and usually calls us every two weeks to check in on her home that my sister is house sitting for her. The last we heard from her was on the 6th of February. 

    A friend has contacted the local police but due to Data Protection they can't tell us anything. They did say they'd send someone round and ask her to call us but that was Monday.
    I've had the same response from the UK Embassy/Foreign Office. They can't do anything without her permission, which obviously I can't get.

    My concern is that she's unable to call due to being in hospital or may have passed away but there doesn't seem to be any way to find out. Her next of kin is in Japan but we don't have any contact info for them.

    Does anyone have any insight into this situation that might help?
    When you say local police, do you mean in the UK? If so, insist on speaking to an Inspector. There's no data protection issue in them seeking proof of life from their Japanese counterparts and reporting back to you that there are no concerns. If the lady has become ill or worse, her relatives could be asked to contact you, again without breaching data protection laws. If that brings no joy, report the neighbour as an officially missing person. Police then must make every effort to find the lady and let you know the outcome, which again could be just to say they have no concerns for her welfare.

    I'm not sure if you mean you've tried the British Embassy in Japan? If so, you could try the Japanese Embassy here in the UK to see if they can help, presumably the lady is a native of Japan? For language help, if you have a nearby University, the chances are there's a Japanese student organisation who might be able to help.

     If all else fails, contact your MP and seek their help. After all, the 'missing' lady is their constituent, too.
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