It can be devastating when a person goes missing; we take reports of missing people seriously and our priority is to locate the missing person as soon as possible.
You can report a missing person by ringing us on 101 (dial 999 in an emergency) or in person at your local police station.
What is a Missing Person?
The national definition of a 'Missing Person' is 'anyone whose whereabouts cannot be established and where the circumstances are out of character or the context suggests the person may be subject of crime or risk of harm to themselves or another'.
Many people believe that the police will not treat somebody as missing until they have been missing for over 24 hours, hence do not tell us. The first 24 hours during an individual going missing can be vital in the search for them so please contact us as soon as you believe someone to be missing.
This does not cover friends or family that you may have lost contact with over the years and you now wish to locate or make contact with. In these circumstances you may wish to consider searching on the internet or social media to locate them or employing a tracing agency to locate them for you.
What happens when I report someone as missing?
Each missing person case is different and the police response will vary from case to case.
In the first instance we will take some initial details from you (either on the telephone or in person if you call into a police station) it is important that at an early stage that you tell us if you have a specific cause for concern for the missing person; examples might include their age, mobility, medication that is due or overdue, their current state of mind or if you think that they might have been a victim of crime.
Officers may choose to search the area that the person was last known to be before taking a more detailed report from you. You will be asked to provide information about the missing person, including a physical description of the missing person and their clothing, details of their friends and family, places they visit regularly including places of work, any health or medical conditions they have and relevant financial information such as who they bank with.
You will be also asked to provide a recent photograph of the person to use by the officers looking for the missing person and in any media appeal that might be made. If this is not immediately to hand please do not delay in calling us whilst you look for one.
Officers will need to search their home address to check if they might be there and to establish if there are any further evidential leads (this is a normal procedure) and this will include any gardens or outbuildings there may be. These searches will often yield clues about where they might be or people that they may be in contact with.
Once a police officer has taken a report from you about the missing person, they will circulate the person as 'missing' on the Police National Computer alerting all officers nationally or internationally.
What happens if a child goes missing?
Children run away for many reasons and on most occasions they return home safely. However, if your child is missing or has run away from home, you must contact the police. Often children are found either at or near the home address and whilst your first instinct will be go out and look for them we would always encourage one person to stay at home in case the child returns.
Depending on their age and the circumstances of the child’s disappearance the police might consider issuing a Child Rescue Alert (CRA). This is a system that issues alerts to the public via email, text message, the media and social media when a child has disappeared and their life is at risk, to assist the police in finding them – use the link below to find out more.
Further information about missing people:
- My child keeps running away is there anything I can do to help find them?
- What will the police do to find someone who is reported missing?
- The police are searching my area for someone who is missing, what can I do to help?
- I have been reported as missing but I am safe and don't want people to know where I am, what should I do?
- If I report someone as missing will the police put their picture in the papers or on social media?
- What is Child Rescue Alert?
- My friend or relative is missing outside of the UK, who should I talk to?
- ‘Operation Forget-Me-Not’ helping to find missing people with dementia.
- My relative has dementia, how can I help to find them if they go missing?
- What are dementia friends?
- Are there any other organisations who can help to locate someone who is missing?