Privacy of service users’ data

This website and the policies described within it are operated by the charity Missing People.  Missing People takes your privacy very seriously and is committed to protecting any personal information we might hold about you. This Privacy Policy tells you what we do with any personal information you provide to us.

Missing People is registered   under the Data Protection Act 1998 as a Data Controller which means we are responsible for how we use the data we hold.   We have a Data Protection Officer (DPO) who is responsible for ensuring that the charity protects your data and abides by the Data Protection Act 1998 and, from May 2018, the new Data Protection Act.  The DPO can be contacted through and will provide more information about our policies if required.

What we do with your data

Missing People keeps your personal information, i.e. information from which you can be identified, on a secure database to which only we have access.  The use of a database means that we are able to quickly resume effective communication even when last contact was a while ago with another member of staff  our team .  We only store information that is related to a missing person case or identified individuals who we are supporting (e.g. SafeCall) or taking action for.  This can include sensitive personal information about the missing person and family members, e.g. their health and well-being, as well as records of our communications.  We do not record telephone conversations but make notes about them.

Wherever possible we will ask for your consent to store data about you.  We will explain why we need to store data.  Obviously, we cannot ask someone who is missing for such consent unless they contact us.  Also, it is possible that someone is not able at the time of contact to properly take in what consent means.  In such situations Missing People has documented justifications under the law to store data without consent.

Personal data about a missing person is provided by the police when they refer a missing person case to us.  Typically this data comprises name, age, date of birth, contact details (e.g. mobile number), appearance and risk factors (e.g. mental health  concern).  The police also provide personal data about family members (with their consent) typically comprising name, contact details and relationship to enable us to offer support to the family.  The police also provide data about the circumstances of the missing person’s disappearance, i.e. date went missing, last known whereabouts and other circumstances.  If the police ask us to contact family members to offer support we will do so and then ask for their consent to contact them in future.

When a family member asks to use our Lost Contact service they provide personal information about themselves and about the family member they have lost contact with.  These are generally situations where the police do not think the person  is vulnerable.  Missing People will follow detailed processes in discussing the situation with the family member to ensure that the charity is satisfied that reasons for seeking the lost family member are in that person’s interest.  The family member will be asked to give consent for their own data to be stored and for the missing person’s data to be used.  Missing People then uses reputable sources to find possible addresses for the lost family member and writes to those addresses.  The letters refer the lost family member to their rights to object to the processing, to seek access to the information we hold, to request us to rectify (correct) it, to restrict what we do with it (e.g. stop processing but store data) or to delete the information we hold . If we find the lost family member we do not share their contact information with the searching relative without the lost family member’s explicit consent .

We will not share your data with anyone without your permission except in the circumstances described below:

  1. Your contact relates to terrorism or bomb threats.
  2. We receive a formal legal request (e.g. court order) to share information with the police.
  3. We need to call an ambulance for you or call the Police to make you safe because you are unable to do it for yourself.
  4. You give us permission to share information with a party we are working with in order to help you better
  5. You identify someone who has harmed or says they are going to harm someone else, or you threaten to harm someone yourself.
  6. You are in a situation which has or could cause you harm, you have given us information that identifies you and you are unable to make decisions for yourself.  This applies to all young people under 13, and in some circumstances to older children and adults.    We will always try to talk to you before taking action, unless we believe that this could put you at greater risk of harm.
  7. You threaten our staff or volunteers, or misuse our service to the detriment of others.  In these circumstances we might restrict your access to our services.

How long we hold your data

Missing People will retain its case records of missing  people and their families for as long as that person remains missing.  This means that we will be ready to help at any time using the best information we have.  This includes supporting the family by providing evidence in a Presumption of Death case.  When we believe the missing person is more than 100 years old, that is, when they are very unlikely to be alive we will delete the record unless we are still supporting the family.  If the record we have is an initial enquiry only or you did not identify yourself and we have not gone on to support the family or missing person within 1 year, we will delete the record.

Once a missing person is found we will retain the records no longer than six years after the last contact with the missing person or a family member so that, if that person goes missing again, we can help using the best information we have.

If there has been no activity on a lost contact case for more than six years we will close the case and delete the record unless the missing person has asked us to retain sufficient data to prevent a later search request.

If we have been supporting a person through the SafeCall service we will retain their data for six years after the last contact.

If we have been supporting a person through a commissioned service where we are a data processor we will retain their data only for as long as required by the contract with the commissioner.


Missing People aims to take reasonable steps to maintain the accuracy of the data it holds about you.  The contact information given to Missing People by the police concerning you, as a family member, will be checked when we are first in contact with you .  We may also ask you to confirm data about your missing loved one.

Because we might retain data for a long time the contact details we hold about you might become out of date as you move your home or change your phone number etc.  If you are a family member and we are supporting you, we would expect you to let us know of your changed details.

If your loved one is found and we have not been in contact with you for a long time then we may need to use reputable sources to find up to date contact details for you.

You have the rights to see the data we hold about you and, if it is not accurate, we will rectify it for you.  Other rights relating to the data we hold about you are outlined below.

Your Rights

If you have any concerns about the data we hold about you and what we do with it you can e-mail us at  and we will respond quickly.  We respect your rights under data protection law, e.g. rights to data access, to rectification, to request erasure, to restrict processing, to object and to withdraw consent, and will implement them subject to any conflict with the rights of others.    You also have the right to seek compensation if harm has occurred.

You also have the right to lodge a complaint with the Information Commissioner’s Office if you are unhappy with the response you receive from Missing People.

Supporting Missing People

When we think you are able to consider it we may ask whether you would like to opt-in  to be given the opportunity to support our campaigns including fundraising campaigns which will help us continue our vital work.  If we think you are not ready to consider this we will not ask you.

What we do with Supporter data

Please see our Fundraising Promise and the Privacy of Supporters’ Data.

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.