Reporting someone missing

Here you'll find the information you need to decide whether you should report the person you are worrying about as a missing person.

Are you worried about someone and can't find them? What should you do?

  • You don’t have to wait 24 hours before you report someone missing. As soon as you can’t find the person and you are worried for their safety and welfare, you can report them missing to the police. It’s important that you share all of your concerns with police. The earlier the police know about someone, the sooner they can start searching.

How do I report my loved one missing to the police?

  • Go to your local police station or
  • Call 101 (the main switchboard number for police in the UK.)
  • If the missing person is a child, or you believe them to be at serious risk of harm, always dial 999

We cannot report your loved one missing to the police on your behalf but we can help in other ways.

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

Talk to us

First steps

What are the actions I should take?

  • Step 1: Try to find them yourself

    Of course, this depends on the person you are looking for. Looking for a young child, or adult who is unable to care for themselves, will be very different to searching for someone who would be at work or school, or who is able to travel.

    Use your gut instinct. If you are seriously worried or you know they can’t take care of themselves, react quickly and call 999.

    If you feel you can make some searches yourself and spend some time looking for them, do this first:

    • Check their home and places where you expect they might be.
    • Look for any notes, messages or emails from them.
    • See when they were last on social media or messaging apps.
    • Send them a message explaining how worried you are.
    • Ask friends, neighbours, and family to help you – they might have heard from and not realised you are worried.
    • Write down what you have done to look and the times, so you can let police know if you need to.
  • Step 2: Contact the police

    Call the police and let them know you want to report a missing person. They will ask you lots of questions. If you have time, it might be a good idea to write down some of your answers before you call, so you feel prepared. Read more about the things they want to know.

    If speaking to the police might be difficult for you, or you’re not sure whether someone is missing or at risk, we can help. You can call or text us for free and in confidence. Call or text 116 000

  • Step 3: Ask us to help

    Our helpline is here for information, support and a listening ear. We can help by launching an appeal for your missing person, as long as the police have an open investigation. We are also here to hear your worries, to wait with you and to help you connect to other people who understand how you are feeling.

    Report someone missing to us.

Searching for people

The person you are missing may not be considered vulnerable or be at risk, that doesn't mean you might not be worrying about them. It may be that there are other ways of finding them, if the police aren't going to start a missing investigation for them Your loved one may be missing abroad and it is not clear what the search will look like. We have brought together some information here, which might suit your search better.

If you have been out of touch with a family member for awhile and would like to be reunited, our Lost Contact tracing service may be able to try to help you reconnect.

Missing investigations may have different agencies involved in the search.  There are police, government agencies and charities which help with the search for missing and out of touch people.

If the missing person is a British Citizen and usually lives in the UK, the police force wherever the person normally lives is responsible for taking the missing report. Make contact with them and explain what has happened If the person who is missing outside of the UK, is not a British Citizen, we wont be able to help with the search but there may be agencies who can.

If you do think your child has been abducted and is immediate danger call 999. The police will advise you as to your next steps. The legal situation can be complicated and we cannot advise directly, organisations such as Reunite will be well placed to advice. Read the Government guidance here.

Helpful Guides

Read more about our publicity opportunities that we may be able to offer you to help with the search.

These 13 principles, developed with those who have been missing or reported a loved one missing, set out what everyone should be able to expect from the police.

Read more about what you can do to look after yourself whilst you wait for news.

Discover what things you might need to do for someone if they have gone missing.

We know how traumatic it can be to have to report someone missing. We are here ready to provide confidential and free support. Find out how.

Hear about some of the reasons we know people decide to go missing, based on those who contact our helpline.

Other helpful stuff