What checks will happen when someone returns or is found

When someone returns from being missing or they are found, the police have a responsibility to check that they are ok. They also want to see them so that they can close the missing investigation.

There are two different types of intervention when someone returns. The first is Prevention Interviews which can also be called safe and well checks. These should happen for every returned missing person. The second is Return Interviews. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland these only happen for children. In Scotland, both children and adults should receive both a safe and well check and a Return Discussion, although in reality these are sometimes combined.

Prevention Interviews

Also can be named Safe and Well Check or Welfare check. When a missing person is found the police will usually want to see them to check that they are safe and to confirm that the person is no longer missing. They will want to do this as soon as possible after the person comes home or is found. They may ask questions about where the person went when they were missing and whether they came to any harm when they were away. The missing persons investigation will be closed after the safe and well check has taken place.

Return Interview or Return Discussion

Return interviews should be offered to all children who have been missing. In a small number of areas, they might be offered to adults as well although this is rare. Each area of the country decides who does these interviews, for example in England, the local authority is responsible and might use social workers to do them or might commission a charity. In Scotland, the Return Discussion might be delivered by a charity, by a social worker or by the police.

These meetings should happen soon after the person returns although often not in the first day or two. The meeting is a chance for the person who has been missing to get some help if they need it, to explain, if they want to, what has been happening and if they have been hurt or are worried about anything. It is a chance to also think through what might help the person from wanting to leave again.

Our Return Interview service

You or your child may have been contacted by one of our team, offering them a return home interview. We have been in contact because we have received a referral for your child when they were reported missing.

Our return home interviews are an opportunity for your child to talk about their experience while they were away from home and gives them a chance to talk to an independent organisation in a confidential space. We listen in a non-judgmental way and try to ensure your child understands what the risks are when away from home, we can then signpost them into any other services that may be able to offer help and support.

Missing People are only commissioned in a small number of areas where we work alongside the local authority and the police to ensure that every young person who is referred to us is offered the opportunity to talk through with us about what happened while they were away. We do not provide return interviews in all areas so you may have been contacted about a similar service but by a different organisation.


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