Last month, a client contacted us and informed us that a family member had gone missing. After a short investigation we found the person. They were safe and well and we arranged for them to be taken back to the family home. The circumstance of the individual going missing were complex, as they often are with these types of cases, and we view every case of this nature very carefully and never generalise. When we initially spoke to the client, he wasn’t sure when they were ‘allowed’ to contact the police, as he thought, quite incorrectly, you have to wait 24 hours before being able to contact the police. Due to this, I thought I’d write a short post to hopefully assist others if, unfortunately, they are in similar circumstances.
During my police career, members of the public were always reluctant to report someone missing as they thought you have to wait 24 hours – you do not. If you’re concerned, call the police right away – IF the missing person is in immediate danger, is a young child or vulnerable to harm, call 999.
If you don’t think they are in immediate danger you can report a missing person online via the local police website or call 101
If you are worried about someone’s safety, do not hesitate to inform the police. If you don’t think someone is in immediate danger, before you report someone missing do the following:
- ring round friends, family and any known places the individual may have gone
- check mobile phone (if available), emails and social media (yours and theirs)
- thoroughly search the home or wherever they were last seen including potential hiding places such as garden sheds and lofts*
- speak to your neighbours and look at any available CCTV
- look for any notes or other clues that may be use or indicate the circumstance or the location of the individual
- ring round local hospitals
If you can, make a note of everything you do and the associated times. Check the missing person’s room and items in the room BUT try to avoid moving too much just in case the police need to forensically examine the area. If the person is not found, there are plenty of additional options available to you and the police so stay positive. We won’t cover options for a longer-term missing person in this post but will go into further detail in a follow up post.
A missing person will not be in trouble or be arrested for going missing. It’s not wasting police time to report someone missing. You won’t be in trouble for reporting someone missing.
*During police training, we were always told to thoroughly search the location the person went missing from, as a large majority of the time, the missing person was still in the place they were last seen or close to it.