If the missing person is a child, elderly, in a very depressed state or there is a very obvious threat to life, risk of harm to the missing person or others, then please alert the police straight away by calling 101.
The information on this page will set out what the police will do in response to reports of a missing person and gives a list of the questions you are likely to be asked when making a report to ensure you have the information ready to hand.
There is no rule that states that you have to wait 24 hours to report a missing person. This is a misconception and in certain circumstances the delay can hinder our initial investigations.
Our missing person risk assessments are dynamic and based on the individual person who is missing, their age, mental state, vulnerability and if there is an obvious threat to life/risk of harm to the missing person or any others.
In other missing persons circumstances we do expect that a reasonable amount of enquiries are made prior to contacting the police. For example, if the person is late home or late for an appointment then it is sensible and reasonable to try and contact the person or the last place they were, either verbally or by physically attending the location and wait a reasonable amount of time prior to contacting the police.
When contacting us to report a missing person please ensure that you have as much detail as possible about the person and the circumstances to enable us to complete a full and thorough missing person report. This will aid our officers when completing their enquiries.
The following list of questions show what our contact handlers are likely to ask you when you call to make a report of a missing person:
- Brief circumstances of the person going missing.
- Where and when were they last seen and by whom?
- A description of the person including clothing.
- What reasonable enquiries have been made so far to trace the individual. If non, why not?
- Is this significantly out of character, if so why?
- What is the specific concern, if any, in this instance? (e.g. vulnerable due to age, infirmity, mental health or physical illness)
- Any last known intentions or preparations made prior to going missing?
- Have they taken any personal items with them such as clothing, passport etc?
- What is the person’s last known home address?
- Do they have a mobile phone in their possession? (Network and phone number required)
- Identify any place they may go to and why: specific interest or hobbie or to find solace/peace and quiet?
- Are they subject to any Mental Health Section - if so what and why?
- Are there any specific medical needs that require medication and if this isn’t available what are the effects and timescales?
- Are they likely to be a victim of crime – if so why?
- Are they likely to be the victim of abuse – if so please explain? (E.g. domestic / sexual / racial / bullying / homophobic)
- Are they currently at risk of sexual exploitation or on a Child Protection register – if so from whom?
- Are they likely to self-harm or attempt suicide. Please give details including last known attempt (how, where, when)?
- Have they been exposed to harm in any previous missing episode – if so please provide details (including when)?
- Do they pose a danger to themselves or anyone else?
- Does the missing person have a current or previous history of drug or alcohol abuse (please give details)?
- Give details of any vehicles in use by the individual or give their normal mode of transport.
- Details of messaging and social media used including usernames and passwords if known.
- What access do they have to money?
- Is there any other information relevant to their absence that we should know about?
Once a report is received of a missing person we will be in touch with you to gather more details about the missing person and the circumstances. The police officers that attend will want to search the location where they were last seen as well as possibly their home address (if different), including any outbuildings, sheds, garden etc.
The officer may wish to take items such as mobile phones, computers, diaries, financial details for examination and to assist with the investigation. Additional information that may be useful to the investigation would be details of any vehicles that the missing person has access to, school or employer details if applicable, GP details and passport information.
Once these initial enquiries have been conducted the officer will update the appropriate recording system for missing person reports and the investigation will continue.
The investigating officer will keep you updated as the investigation progresses. It is important to keep the police updated with any new information you may have and to contact us if the missing person returns home whilst the police are continuing to look for them.
Once the missing person has been located, the investigating officer, should inform you that they have been found. Sometimes, if the missing person is an adult, they may not wish for family/individuals reporting to know where they are or any other details relating to the missing episode. The wishes of the missing person will be respected in this scenario.