Search Site

Leave page quickly

Missing person

Anyone whose whereabouts cannot be established will be considered as missing until located, and their well-being or otherwise confirmed.


It is a traumatic experience when someone goes missing and can be a very stressful time for all involved. It is critical that you understand what you can do and the immediate action you can take, especially when the person could be in danger.

Key actions 

  • Search their home or the place the person was last seen, in case the person is hiding or may have fallen and been injured. Remember that children can hide in very small spaces.
  • Look out for any notes or clues that may suggest where they may be.
  • Check to see if they have left you a message on your phone voicemail or email.
  • Make a note of any items you have noticed missing such as bags, clothing, medication.
  • Contact family members, friends and the person's place of work to verify that they are actually missing and not simply somewhere unexpected.
  • If relevant check Facebook and other social media sites for postings.
  • Do you have access to the missing persons financial information? It may assist the Police to have the details of where the person banks or if you are a shared account holder and can look at recent transactions.
  • It may be helpful to keep a record in a notebook of what you have done (including all phone calls) and anything that seems out of the ordinary or suspicious, to assist the police and help keep track of what still needs to be done.

The police will take a detailed report and it will be helpful if you can provide as much of the following information as possible.

  • Full name and date of birth for the missing person.
  • A physical description of the missing person, including what clothes and jewellery they were wearing (if known).
  • A recent photograph of the missing person that you can send to Police by email.
  • When they were last seen and by whom. 
  • What their intentions were when last seen and whether they completed these (e.g. they left to go to work or visit a friend).
  • Tell the police whether or not the missing person has a mobile phone with them and give the police the number. Tell the police what response you get when calling that number.
  • Names, addresses and contact numbers of family members and their close friends.
  • If the missing person is a child, provide contact details for the parents of their close friends.
  • Tell the police of any locations which may be important to them. If the missing person has dementia then previous home addresses will assist the police.

Any other relevant circumstances that may increase the risk to the missing person. Please be an honest with officers and provide as much information as possible. For example:

  • Recent changes in behaviour or behaviour that is out of character.
  • Relevant medical conditions that may affect their vulnerability, details of any prescription medication they take and whether they have this medication with them.
  • Family or relationship problems - a recent argument or personal issue.
  • Employment or financial problems.
  • School or college problems.
  • Being a victim of bullying or harassment.
  • Drug or alcohol dependency.
  • Suffering from depression or you suspect that they may self-harm.
  • Having previously considered or attempted suicide.
  • Any suspicion that the missing person may have been abducted or may have been harmed by someone else.
  • Any other information which may suggest that they are vulnerable or at risk.

Should you receive any contact from the missing person or become aware of any information that is very relevant then please let the police know.

The National Police Chiefs' Council's definition for missing: '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 at risk of harm to themselves or another'.

A number of people who have lost contact with family and friends may decide to report them missing. There is a difference, however, between a missing person and a lost contact case and police forces do not deal with the latter. There are a number of reasons why people lose touch with each other, such as moving house or family conflict, and it is understandable that they seek to reconnect; however if there is no indication of vulnerability or concern then this will be considered a lost contact case and police will not become involved. Instead there are a number of tracing agencies who may be able to provide a service.

Missing People

The charity Missing People provides support, advice and practical help for the families of missing people across the UK. It has a 24 hour telephone helpline for around-the-clock emotional support for the duration of a loved one's disappearance. The charity also runs several helplines for both missing adults and children to contact if they need assistance. Missing People also has a website listing details of people who have been reported missing in the UK, both adults and children. Missing People is the largest charity working in this area.
T: 116 000

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army provide a service for tracing adult relatives with whom contact has been lost (this does not include adoptees or under 16s).
T: 0207 367 4747
Monday-Friday 8:15am-3:15pm


Samaritans provides confidential non-judgemental emotional support, 24 hours a day. Services are offered by telephone, email, letter and face-to-face in most of its branches.
T: 08457 90 90 90 is a free and instant online messaging service which allows users to contact missing persons, old friends and distant relatives.

Download leaflet: pdf icon Missing person - advice sheet [177kb]