Missing for hours

This information and guidance will help you understand what's happening right now, and what you can do.

If someone has just gone missing

Worrying about someone can be a horrible feeling, particularly if you think that they are missing. The first few hours and days after you realise someone is missing can feel emotional and overwhelming. You might experience panic, dread and anxiety whilst you wait for news. Going missing is not a crime, and reporting someone missing doesn’t mean that they’ll be in trouble with the police. So if you are worried about someone, it’s important that you tell the police and ask for help.

We’re here to support you, for free and in confidence. Call or text 116 000

Talk to us

Steps you can take

Most people come home or get in contact quickly and without the police having to look for them. But you do not have to wait 24 hours to report someone missing. As soon as you don’t know where someone is and you are worried for their safety and welfare, you can report them missing to the police.

Start the search

First of all, try not to worry. Begin by calling the person, searching the places where you think they could be, and speaking to people that might know where they are.

Look after yourself

Stay calm and stay safe.  If you plan to search in unfamiliar places or in the dark, take someone with you or at least tell them where you are going.

Ask for help

Ask family or friends to help you; this can speed things up and make you feel more supported and less alone. Think about who is best to help, and to wait with you.

Keep a record

Make a note of all the things you have done, places you have searched and people you have spoken to. This might be helpful later.

Phone the police

If you think the person is at risk or you’re worried about their safety, report them as a missing person to the police. You do not have to wait 24 hours to do this.

Ask for professional support

Contact us via our free and confidential helpline at any stage. We can support you through the process, and then launch a publicity appeal if necessary.

Helpful Guides

Find out what to do if you think someone you know is missing, and follow the steps to report them missing.

Understand the process that police will follow when someone is reported missing to them.

If you want to go out looking for your loved one, follow our guidance on how to do it safely

There are tasks that need doing while you’re person is away; read our list of things to consider.

Find out how to launch an appeal to help find your person quickly.

Read more about how to help and care for people with a loved one goes missing.

Other helpful stuff

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.