Looking for the missing person

If you haven’t already:

  • search the home or wherever they were last seen
  • check the loft, garden, shed or garage
  • remember that children can fit into small spaces
  • see if they have left a note
  • look for clues as to what they might be intending to do, for example have they taken their passport or packed a bag
  • check your phone and email for messages
  • ring round friends and family

You might want to:

  • keep your main phone free for receiving incoming calls, in case the missing person or the police are trying to call you. For example, you could use a friend’s mobile phone for outgoing calls
  • make sure there is always someone at home if you go out, in case the missing person comes home


If someone has had an accident and is unconscious, the hospital might not know who they are and who they should contact.

You could ring round hospitals to see if they have any recent unidentified arrivals. Check with us first as we may already have done this.

Working with the police

If you are actively looking for the missing person yourself, make sure you tell us so we know what you are doing.

Do not put yourself in danger

For example, let police deal with any specialist searches in places like mountains or water.

To help us:

  • take notes on everything you do so you can tell the police working on the case. You can also make a note of questions you want to ask
  • leave the missing person’s bedroom and things alone. Do not wash or clean anything until we have searched and collected evidence
  • do not touch their hairbrush or toothbrush. We might want to collect a DNA sample from them, in case the person is missing for a long time

Posters and other publicity

If someone has been missing for a while, you might want to put up missing posters or generate other publicity, for example on social media.

About missing people posters and other publicity

Take care of yourself

Having a loved one go missing can be a very traumatic experience. Take care of yourself and your family, and ask other people for help.

The charity Missing People can support you and help you cope when someone has gone missing. Their phone line on 116 000 is open 24 hours a day.

Missing People website

Missing abroad

Things will be different if the person has gone missing in a different country to you.