About the charity

  • The difference we make

    We exist to be a lifeline when someone disappears. We provide free advice, support services and ways to find missing people. Last year we found 1,126 missing people, safeguarded 4,105 missing children and adults, supported 1,981 families with a missing loved one, and responded to an average of 161 contacts a day to our free, confidential helpline.

  • Our credentials

    We have more than 20 years’ experience as specialists providing support to families and to missing people. Our partners include the National Crime Agency; police forces across the UK; voluntary organisations across Europe who share our Vision; and the University of Portsmouth’s Centre for the Study of Missing Persons.

  • Do you charge for your services?

    No. Thanks to our fantastic team of volunteers, pro bono partners, media partners, funders and individual supporters, all of our services are provided completely free of charge.

  • Are you part of the police?

    No. Missing People is an independent charity funded by donations. We work in collaboration with a range of partners across the UK, including local police forces, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland (ACPOS).  Find out more about our partners.

  • Fundraising

    Missing People is a proud member of the Fundraising Standards Board and fundraises in accordance with the charity’s Ethical Policy. As an independent charity, we rely on public donations.

    Every cash donation is matched with gifts-in-kind of the same value, or higher, from generous corporate supporters. This means the charity does not use cash donations to pay for many overheads such as office space, or legal fees, amongst many others.

    On average, the charity generates £3-4 of income for every pound it spends on fundraising. Total fundraising costs are normally no more than 20-25% of our total annual expenditure.

    At Missing People, we never use the image or details of any current or former missing person without the express permission of that person’s family. This applies to both our appeals and fundraising activity.

  • How do you decide the salaries of your staff?

    As a service provider, the charity’s main cost is our fabulous staff team of around 60 people, and the training and support for almost 500 volunteers, all of whom help us continue to be a lifeline, accredited in 2015 with the ‘Helpline Standard’ by the Helplines Partnership. The charity regularly benchmarks salaries with other voluntary organisations of our size to ensure our staff salaries are comparable.

  • Public figures

    Patrons, Ambassadors and Family Representatives of Missing People are all volunteers. The expectations of people who represent the charity are considered carefully by Directors, Trustees and the individual prior to their appointment. Family Representatives are self-appointed following discussion with the charity.

    The Board of Trustees are all volunteers recruited to provide governance and strategic oversight to Missing People. They ensure the Executive teamwork to meet the charity’s Vision and charitable Aims.

    Volunteers in all roles receive no payment for their time. Reasonable travel costs are of course offered.

  • What are your Ethical Policies?

    The charity has an Ethics Policy to ensure decisions about our partnerships are consistent and in keeping with the charity’s Vision and charitable Aims.

    In addition, Missing People is developing a Green Travel Policy to ensure we minimise the impact of travel by staff and volunteers on the environment.

  • Why does Missing People sometimes require shift-workers?

    People work at Missing People to make a difference. We sometimes use zero hour contracts to allow flexibility on both sides, where we are not obligated to offer work and conversely, the contracted employee is not obligated to accept work. Whilst most of our helpline team are employed in part time or full time posts, an example of when we use these contracts is to help us cover our helpline service.  Often, flexible working fits around the employee’s other commitments. Sometimes we need staff to cover at short notice or to work flexibly, like supply teachers. In these roles, our amazing bank staff know it helps us run our service. We don’t ask people to turn up and then send them home and we don’t expect them to work exclusively with us. We keep the dialogue open, ensuring this agreement works for both sides.

About our appeals for missing people

  • How long does it take to find a missing person?

    Most missing people are found safe and well within 72 hours. Sadly, some are not, and we will not stop searching until a person is found or their family or the police have asked us to do so.

  • I've noticed that you're still sharing an appeal for someone who I think has been found. Why?
    It is possible that you may see appeals on our website, social media feeds or digital billboards for a missing adult or child who you think or know has been found. This could be for one of the following reasons:
    – The charity only launches or removes appeals for missing people when requested to do so by the police. In instances where we become aware through the media or social media, that someone we are appealing for has been found, we contact the police for confirmation before removing the appeal across our networks. Whilst this process ensures that we have the correct information, it can sometimes take a little time.
    – It may be that the missing adult or child who we are appealing for has been missing and found in the past and then gone missing again. If you have seen information online or elsewhere reporting that they have been found, this may refer to a different occasion when they have been missing. It is not unusual for someone who has been missing in the past to go missing again. For example, A recent research project showed that over half of young people who went missing had done so more than once, with 22% having gone missing three times or more.
  • I asked you to share my appeal for a missing person and you said that you can’t. Why?
    If you need to report someone as being missing, please contact us on 116 000 immediately.
    The charity does not publicise appeals for missing people without going through a number of steps to ensure the accuracy of the information and that it is safe to publicise their disappearance. We know that our supporters and online audience share the appeals we post because they trust that this process has been carried out and that any publicity is in the best interests of the missing person. When we are asked to share appeals that we are not currently publicising, there is no way to guarantee these details, the identity of the person requesting support, or that publicity is appropriate. We encourage our followers and supporters to like, share and retweet these specific feeds so that when the missing person is found, we can remove their appeal and respect that person’s privacy. Posts made directly by others cannot be automatically withdrawn in the same way.
    When possible, if we are asked to share appeals for missing people that we are not currently publicising but which may fit our remit, we will pass along details of how the charity can provide support and publicity.  Please note, we are unable to provide publicity appeals for missing people without the consent of the police and we can only publicise appeals for missing people who are missing in the UK or for UK nationals who are missing abroad.
  • Is it safe for me to share appeals for missing people online?

    The charity does not share appeals for through social media or on www.missingpeople.org.uk without gaining permission from the police. We ask you to be equally conscientious about sharing appeals not issued by Missing People or the Police where the provenance is unclear.

    In the UK, there are four main ways of joining the search through verified sources:
    1. Your local police force website or Twitter/Facebook account
    2. The Missing People websiteTwitter or Facebook pages

    All of these sources come with the assurance that:

    • The person is actually missing (and not being looked for by a person who may be abusing them)
    • The certainty that the family/carer/next of kin has given consent to media being done (except in very exceptional circumstances when police will override this)
    • The reassurance that the appeal is being shared having first considered if it’s in the best interest of the missing person
  • My relative has gone missing abroad. Can you help?

    We can give you advice regarding other organisations and international agencies that may be able to help. Additionally, we may be able to put an appeal for your relative on our website. Find out more here.

Requests from external agencies and third parties

  • Can someone from Missing People give a talk about your work?

    If you would like Missing People to send a representative to talk at an event, please send details of the date, time, location, likely attendance and the purpose of the talk to supporters@missingpeople.org.uk. We are very grateful for opportunities to raise awareness of our services, but attendance at events is subject to the availability of an appropriate staff member or volunteer.

  • Will you share or endorse unofficial apps, websites and social media channels that feature lists of people missing in the UK?

    Missing People partners with the National Crime Agency to enable families to be referred to us for support. This also means that we can host online appeals for most of those missing in the UK at www.missingpeople.org.uk

    Through the charity’s formal police partnerships and professionally run 24 hour helpline we are able to remove and update appeals at the request of families and the police. This avoids upset if someone has actually been found safe and well (or sadly found dead) and ensures the credibility of the information.

    We are therefore not able to endorse other sites.

  • I have been contacted by an unofficial support group, what should I do?

    Occasionally the charity is made aware of people with an interest in missing persons who offer ‘support’ (in person, by phone or online) to families they don’t know. This type of involvement can lead to emotional harm to the family in question, and those offering the ‘support’, as often, the boundaries are not clear and the ‘support’ is not professional.

    If you have a missing loved one, and are concerned about someone contacting you offering support and help, please contact your dedicated support worker, or our helpline on 116 000 (free, confidential).

    Anyone offering support independently is asked to make it clear on all materials they produce that they are not associated with the charity Missing People.

  • I am a third party (charity, organisation, media, school, community group). Can I promote your 116 000 helpline?

    We want people affected by ‘missing’ to know that our services are here for them, so we welcome any efforts to promote the helpline. If you are able to do this, we ask that you acknowledge that the charity Missing People is the helpline provider and include our key information (free, confidential).

    Our helpline number can only be displayed with appeals for missing people (i.e. to encourage public information and sightings) when the appeal is provided by the police or the charity. This ensures that potentially valuable information gets to the right place.

  • Will you endorse my Missing/Child Safety Product?

    Missing People does not promote or endorse products to help in the search for missing children, other than its own and those of our partners. Unfortunately, we are unable to reply to individual requests.

Sign up to be a Digital Search Hero

We have launched a regular email so that you can be aware of new missing person appeals and share them far and wide! We are also calling on all Heroes to be the eyes and ears for Missing People on the ground. Your sighting of a missing person could make a difference in a crucial time.