What will the police do to find someone who is reported missing?

The police treat each missing persons case differently and the police response will depend on a number of factors.

Every missing persons case is allocated to a police officer to obtain initial details and that officer and their supervisors will conduct a risk assessment to decide the correct response to each case. This will depend on a variety of factors including (but not limited to) age, vulnerability, physical or mental health conditions, time elapsed since last seen, circumstances of disappearance, whether the person has been missing before and previous behaviour whilst missing.

Once the risk assessment has been completed the officers will ensure the correct resources are allocated to deal with the case, for lower risk cases it may be that the officer in case will be asked to conduct enquiries to trace the missing person. Missing person enquires are carried out around the clock and cases will be handed from team to team to ensure the person is found as quickly as possible.

In higher risk cases additional resources, including specialist Missing From Home Managers and Police Search Advisors will be contacted to give advice and support to the officers dealing with the case. In the most serious of cases detectives from the Force Major Investigation Team or specialist Police Search Teams will also be allocated to the case. 

Primarily police enquiries will be investigation and/or search based. Investigative enquiries will include speaking to friends and family, checking with known associates and local contacts and may progress to financial enquiries with banks or lenders, telephone billing / call history, internet and social media usage or anything that might assist in tracing the missing person.

Police searches will focus on physically search places or locations where the missing person may have been or may currently be. This may include their home address, place of work, where someone has seen them or where information gained from the investigation may suggest that they might be. The police have specialist officers to manage these type of searches and will draw upon resources such as police dogs, police helicopters, police horses and specialist search teams to conduct these.

We will also draw upon the specialist skills of Bolton and Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue Teams, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service, Bay Search and Rescue Team, the Coastguard and myriad other local voluntary organisations who are all willing to give up their time to help (and for which we are always very very grateful).

Each case is reviewed on a regular basis for the most serious of these will be lead by senior officers from the local policing area and Force Major Investigation Team.


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