Missing people

What to do if somebody goes missing, or you think you may know where somebody is.

A missing person is somebody whose whereabouts is unknown, or they are not where they are meant to be.  If you are concerned that somebody you know is missing, call the police on 101 or visit your local police station. Many people think you have to wait 24 hours before you can report somebody, but that is not the case.

When you contact us, we'll carry out a risk assessment. In particular, we will consider the person's age, the circumstances surrounding their disappearance, their health and whether they need essential medication or treatment, if their disappearance is out of character and whether they have financial, employment or relationship problems.

We do expect you to have made as much effort as possible to find them too - try to contact them, look for them in the places they like to go, and speak to friends and relatives to see if they have heard from them.

If you think the person is at risk or unsafe, always call 999.

Before you call

We will ask you a range of questions to build up a picture of the missing person, the level of risk they pose to themselves and others, and to help us work out where to start looking. Think about the following and be ready to answer our questions.

We'll need to know:

  • their personal details, such as their full name, date of birth and address
  • a physical description, including the clothes and shoes they are wearing, any jewellery, marks or scars, and what they are carrying with them currently
  • when and where they were last seen, and by who
  • what they were intending to do, such as going to work
  • their mobile phone details, including the telephone number, network, whether it is a contract of pay-as-you-go agreement, and if there are any location services enabled such as Find my iPhone
  • any recent changes in their behavior that is out of character
  • the names, addresses and contact details for their family members and close friends
  • any relevant medical conditions, along with any prescription medication they are due to take and whether they would be carrying it
  • if there have been any family, relationship, employment, financial, school or college problems
  • if they have been the victim of bullying or harassment
  • if they are dependent upon drugs or alcohol
  • if they are depressed, have considered or previously attempted suicide, or self-harm
  • how they travel normally, such as by car, public transport or bicycle
  • if they use social media, along with their passwords if you know them
  • if there has been a recent anniversary of significant date, such as the death of a relative

For most missing people, you should contact us on 101 or by using an accessible contact method.

Keeping us up to date

If you become aware of new information that may assist our enquiries, please update us as soon as possible.

As we have limited resources, it is essential that you update us if the missing person returns. Contact us straight away on 101 so we can scale back the policing operation. We may still need to visit the person to check they are safe and well.

Further advice and support

If you are unsure whether somebody is missing or at risk, or you feel unable to speak to the police about the situation, you can get advice and support from the following organisations and charities:

Missing People - a UK charity that specialises in and is dedicated to reuniting missing people with their families.

Runaway Helpline - provides support to those thinking about running away, or those that have and wish to come back.

Samaritans - providing people you can talk to. You don't have to be feeling suicidal.

Barnados - a children's charity

UK Missing Persons Bureau

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