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How to stop being missing

If you have been reported missing, the police will need to speak to you. We know that you still may not be ready to go back, or feel safe to return, but speaking to us or the police could be the first step.

If you are reported missing, you will be officially considered as a missing person until you are found.  You can only stop being missing – and stop the search  – if the police are able to do a ‘Safe and Well Check’. This needs to be in person, so that they can confirm that you are not in danger or in need of urgent medical help. Once they have done this, they will cancel your missing status.

If you are under 18 the police will need to make sure you are taken home or somewhere else that is safe. For more information about this, visit our Runaway Helpline website.

Getting a safe and well check

  • Go into a police station or approach a police officer you see in public.
  • You can also call the police, tell them where you are and arrange for an officer to come and see you.
  • You don’t need to see police in the area you are missing from. If you are in a different place than where you were living, you can see the local police.
  • You might have gone home already – if you can, let the police know that they can come and do your Safe and Well Check. Someone else at home might be able to help you with this.

What will happen?

The police will need to ask you some questions to verify who you are. Having ID with you will help with this. The police will ask you questions to check you are okay at the moment. If you have been threatened or hurt by anyone you should consider telling them, so that they can help you stay safe.

Closing the investigation

Once the check is done, and the police confirm that you are safe and well, they will change your missing status to ‘found’ and cancel any activity they are doing to find you, such as publicity appeals. They will tell the person who reported you missing that you have been found safe and well, but won’t say where you are unless you have asked them to.

How we can help

We know it can be a big step to go to the police. We can help to prepare you. We can even connect you through to the police on a 3-way phone call. A call won’t change your missing status, but will give you the chance to ask the police questions before you decide what to do.

Remember, going missing is not an offence.  Adults over the age of 18 have the right to go missing, unless they have been detained under the Mental Health Act, or are legally in the care of another person. Legally, you will not be in trouble for going missing unless you are wanted for a crime.

Our offer of support doesn’t stop with a Safe and Well Check. Even after you have stopped being missing, you might still be facing challenges, feel worried about things or having difficulty back at home or wherever you are now.

Talk to us