In an article in the Sunday Times today, a number of retired members of the Irish police force (Gardaí) expressed their dissatisfaction with psychics who claim to have information on the whereabouts of missing persons. On numerous occasions, Gardaí have been forced to conduct searches based purely on tip-offs from psychics and clairvoyants. No bodies have ever been found as a result of these types of searches.

“They always say a body is buried near a tree, or in water, or sometimes on a stretch of coast”, said retired assistant commissioner Martin Donnellan. “When nothing is found they’ll say the spirits are sending them the wrong signals”.

“I have never seen one of them provide any information that was worthwhile”, said retired cold-case detective Alan Bailey. “They usually claim the victim came to them in a dream, and asked them to convey a message”.

According to these sources, psychic meddling has become a big problem. Gardaí often waste precious time and resources to conduct searches they know will have no useful outcome. Psychics make contact with families, who in turn put pressure on the police to conduct a search. “In truth”, says Donnellan, “such searches are being conducted to appease families”.

The involvement of one British psychic, Diane Lazarus, was described as “unhelpful and distracting” after she claimed to provide information concerning the murderer of teenager Raonaid Murray in Dublin in 1999.

Psychics have offered their “services” in the cases of Annie McCarrick, Amy Fitzgerald, Mary Boyle, Jo Jo Dullard and Deirdre Jacob, among others. In each case the information provided has lead nowhere, instead creating false hope for the families of the victims. 

If psychics were effective, we would have heard of it by now. Psychic policing would be an active part of crime research and every police force in the world would have a psi-division. There would be abundant, successful peer-reviewed studies available and a history of solved disappearances. Instead, this field of inquiry remains where it’s always been: mired in the realm of science fiction.

Psychic investigators are engaged in a process of deception, always of others and quite often themselves. They waste police time and police resources. They provide false hope. They reopen old wounds, forcing families to re-live the terrible times of the disappearance. Their currency is delusion and the effect, almost always, is misery.

Ideally, psychics should be held financially and legally responsible for every claim they make regarding disappearances or unsolved murders. Like cigarette manufacturers, they should be forced to provide an explicit, official warning in all cases where they provide an input into a crime case, if the only information they have is from a dream, a vision or a claimed supernatural source. All cases where psychics fail to provide useful information needs to be publically registered, so that families can review for themselves how utterly useless their services are.

Until proper evidence is provided to the contrary, it is about time we allowed police to fully engage themselves in modern policing, keeping the delusional practices of psychic investigators where they should remain: in the movie theatre.