West Mercia Police receives more than 7,000 missing person reports each year. The majority of people turn up safe and well. Many are adults who have chosen to go missing however some individuals are more vulnerable because of their age, health or the circumstances they find themselves in.
Whatever the reason, when a person goes missing, their relatives and friends are left desperate for news that they are safe and well.
When people are reported missing to the police, we have a responsibility and duty of care to do what we can to find them.
What To Do If You Think Someone Is Missing
If you are worried about someone who you think may be missing, contact the police. There is no time limit on when you can make a report. You don't, for example, have to wait 24 hours.
The easiest ways to report a person missing are by calling the police or going to a police station (You can find a list of all our police stations here).
When we receive a report, the person's details are entered onto a computer system called COMPACT which is specifically designed for recording, managing and investigating missing person enquiries. Details will be circulated to all West Mercia's operational officers as well as other UK police forces and internationally.
Information required will include:
- Any known health problems or medical conditions
- All known associates (family, friends, business colleagues...)
- Details of places they frequent (where they live, work, socialise, visit...)
- Details of any recent events that could be linked with their disappearance
- Financial details (bank account, credit and debit card details...)
- Telephone numbers (mobile, home, work, pager...)
What Happens Next?
Investigations will begin immediately.
A recent photograph will also be required, as will a DNA sample (this can be obtained from a toothbrush or hairbrush).
We will seek consent to search the missing person's home or bedroom. This is routine and can often provide new investigative leads.
You will also be asked to consent to publicity. We frequently use the media to make an appeal to the public for information to help us locate people. Again, this often proves fruitful.
If during the investigation you remember or find out anything that you think might help - no matter how small - let us know immediately.
Sometimes when we find an adult who has been reported missing, they ask for their location to remain a secret. If this is the case, we will check that they are safe and well but respect their wishes and not pass on information about their location to their friends and family.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it only people under 18 who can be reported missing?
No, anybody of any age can be reported missing.
I believe that my friend / relative has gone abroad. What can I do?
Report the details to your local police. They will pass the information to Interpol who will make enquiries in the country the person was last seen or believed to be in. You may also wish to contact the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the consulate of that country in the UK.
My partner has abducted our child and left the country without my knowledge or consent. What can I do?
This is a criminal offence and should be reported to the police immediately. It is also covered by civil law and you should seek advice from a family solicitor to begin proceedings to initiate the return of your child to the UK.
I am reported as missing. What should I do?
Go to the nearest police station and explain that you've been reported missing. You will need to provide proof of identity. You can also call the charity Missing People who will give you free, confidential advice while you are away from home. If you would like them to, they can help you speak with the police or pass a message to your family if that is what you want. Call them any time of the day or night on 0500 700 700.
I am reported missing but I do not want to return home, what should I do?
Go to the nearest police station and explain that you've been reported missing. You will need to provide proof of identity. The police will confirm with you that you are safe and well and then pass that news - but not your location - on to your family. Missing People can also provide you with support while you are away from home. Their helpline is free, confidential and available 24/7. They won't tell your family where you are if you don't want them to. Call them on 0500 700 700.
I have some information about a missing person, what should I do?
Pass the information to police or phone the Missing People helpline on 0500 700 700. You can choose to remain anonymous if you want.
I have lost contact with a friend / relative and would like to get back in touch with them - can I report them missing to the police?
If you think your friend or relative is in danger or you are concerned for their safety, contact the police immediately.
Otherwise there are a number of organisations that can help you trace them such as Missing People on 0500 700 700 or the Red Cross. You can also use the internet where there are a number of websites involved in tracing friends and family.
I am trying to trace my family tree. Will the police help?
No, but there are various organisations that will assist you. For further details try looking on the internet.
I was adopted as a child and I am now trying to trace my biological parents. Will the police help?
No but there are specialist organisations that can assist you, including your local social services who may be able to help.
Missing People Fact Sheets
The National Policing Improvement Agency (NPIA) has produced a series of factsheets giving information and help to families of missing people.
The 11 leaflets, put together by the agency's Missing Persons Bureau, have been produced in response to requests for practical help from families and relatives of those who have gone missing.
- They cover subjects such as
- what to do when someone goes missing
- which charities and organisations to contact to help find a missing person
- what support and advice is available to help relatives cope and carry on with life
- how to deal with practical matters such as financial, legal and property issues that arise when someone is missing for some time.
They also describe what to do when someone goes missing abroad and how publicity can help find a missing person. One factsheet is aimed at runaways and others reported missing who don't want to have any contact with their families apart from telling them they are safe.
The factsheets are available to the public on the NPIA website. They can be downloaded by going to http://www.npia.police.uk/en/10236.htm