When you report someone as missing, the police will take a report from you. The report will be used to flag up the person as missing on the Police National Computer. This means information about the missing person will be available to all police forces across the UK within 48 hours.
For the report, the police may ask for information from you like:
- photos of the missing person
- details of events that may have led to their disappearance
- places the missing person is known to have visited
- details of other friends or relatives
- you might be asked to provide something that the missing person’s DNA can be taken from, like a toothbrush
It may be necessary for the police to search your home. This is normal procedure and doesn’t mean you are under suspicion.
Missing people – charities that can help
Missing People confidential freephone helplines
Missing People: 0500 700 700
Runaway Helpline: 0808 800 70 70 or text 80234
Message Home: 0800 700 740
There are several charities that help both people searching for missing adults and children, and people who have gone missing.
Missing People charity
The charity Missing People supports missing children and adults and those left behind. It runs three confidential, 24-hour, freephone helplines:
- Missing People – support for families and friends of missing people, and help for people who go missing – call 0500 700 700
- Runaway Helpline – for anyone who has run away from home or care, or been forced to leave home – call 0808 800 70 70 or text 80234
- Message Home – allows anyone who has gone missing to send a message to family or friends – call 0800 700 740 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Missing People also produces and circulates posters of missing people and generates publicity by making appeals through the internet, TV, newspapers and magazines. In addition, it has a range of resources and guidance surrounding the legal and financial repercussions of having a family member go missing.
Missing Kids charity
The Missing Kids website gives advice to parents and contains a searchable database of missing children. Each record includes posters with photos, a description of the child and details of when they were last seen. The posters can be downloaded and printed from the website.
Only the police are able to add new cases to the site. If you would like your child to be included in the database, you will need to report them as missing to the police. The police officer dealing with your case will be able to advise whether using Missing Kids is right for your case.
Other charities supporting parents of missing children
There are other charities that specialise in supporting families of children who have gone missing and publicising cases. These include:
- Forever Searching
- Railway Children
What happens when a missing person is found
Sometimes people who go missing don’t want to get back in touch with friends and relatives when they are found. If the police find the missing person, they won’t pass on information they have about their whereabouts without the person’s permission. However, the police will let you know the person is safe and well.
If the missing person is vulnerable, eg because of poor health or age, the police may contact family and friends, health or social services. If the missing person is under 18, the parent or guardian will always be notified if they are found.
If you are missing: getting back in touch
If you think you have been reported missing and would like to get back in touch, visit your local police station. Take some proof of your identity, like a passport or driving licence.
If you would rather not contact the police, the charity Missing People can contact the police anonymously on your behalf.
Reporting a sighting of a missing person
If you think you have seen a missing person, give details of where and when you saw them to the police. If you would prefer to report a sighting without giving your personal details, you can contact Missing People on 0500 700 700 or use their website.