How do I know if someone has gone missing?
A missing person is:
“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”.
While it is understandably distressing when someone goes missing, the reality is that investigating reports of missing people is an everyday activity for police. The vast majority of people reported missing are found or return alive and well within a very short period of time.
Some people will be missing for longer periods of time. A very small fraction will be found to have been the victim of a serious crime.
Most people only alert police when the person’s whereabouts becomes a concern. Usually this means the person had made their own basic enquiries into the missing person’s whereabouts.
The most familiar example of this is the parent who will telephone their child’s friends’ parents as a first port of call.
If someone you know goes missing and you are genuinely concerned for their safety, then contact the police with as much information as you can provide.
How do I report a missing person?
Most missing person reports come to us through our 101 non-emergency number. This is the correct number to report somebody missing unless it is of a particularly urgent nature.
If the missing person is vulnerable, known to be suicidal or there is another reason that makes the situation an emergency, then you should call 999.
What if I’m reported missing but I don’t want to be found?
If you have been reported missing and want to let police and your family know that you are safe without them knowing where you are, you should ideally attend your local police station with proof of your identity and tell them that you have been reported missing.
Usually the police will respect your wish that your family are not informed of your whereabouts. If you are a vulnerable person (for example under the age of 16 or suffering from a mental illness) the officer will have a duty to protect you and may have decided on a different course of action.
The charity Missing People also provides advice and assistance to missing people and have a runaway helpline and a message home service for those wanted to let people know they are safe without having to get in touch with their family or carers.