What is a missing person?
Anyone whose whereabouts cannot be established will be considered as missing until located, and their well-being or otherwise confirmed.
This does not cover friends or family that you may have lost contact with over the years and you now wish to locate or make contact with.
What happens when I report a missing person?
You can contact us to report someone as missing:
- By calling 101 (Call 999 in an emergency and you believe the person is in immediate danger)
- In person at your local police station.
You do not have to wait 24 hours.
Reporting someone as missing can be an upsetting and distressing experience.
We will ask you a series of questions to find out more information about the missing person and the events that led to them going missing. Depending on the circumstances of the person going missing, a police officer will visit you to obtain further information to assist us in looking for them.
We may suggest issuing an appeal to the media to help us locate them if we believe they are at immediate risk.
What happens if a child goes missing?
Children who are frequently missing from home are at an increased risk from Child Exploitation, becoming involved in crime or becoming victims of crime. We will prioritise searching for missing children.
If your child is repeatedly going missing from home it could be an indicator that they are involved in crime, drugs or alcohol. Knowing what your child's habits and normal behaviour is can help to identify risk factors. Have they suddenly become more secretive? Are they suddenly coming home with new clothes or other expensive items? Have they recently had health problems that they didn't have before? If your child's behaviour suddenly changes you might want to ask why, it isn't always sinister but reassuring yourself might help to alleviate some of your concerns.
What should I do before reporting a missing person to the police?
- Check the person is not in the house, garden or nearby spaces
- Try to call them or make contact with them
- Check if they have taken any important items with them such as their phone, money or clothing
- Contact friends and family to check if they know where the person is
- Ask friends and family to help you find them
- If you still can’t find them, call the police force they have gone missing from on 101 (999 if you think they are in danger) and give them as much information as you can
- When we visit to take a full missing persons report, provide as much detail as you can, including a recent photo
- If you go out to look for them then take a phone so you are contactable
- Make sure someone stays at home in case they return
If you believe the missing person is in immediate danger call police on 999
What should I do if the missing person returns home?
- Call 101 to tell the police they have come home if they do not already know.
- If it’s a child, reassure them that you are there to help them deal with any problems, encourage them to speak to you.
- Take note of what they tell you, check if they have any injuries or any new possessions.
- If they have been harmed or you suspect a crime has been committed, report it to the police and seek medical help if necessary.
- In cases of children who go missing, the police will visit your child to check they are safe and well and have not suffered harm.
What happens if someone with dementia goes missing?
Nothing is more worrying or distressing than when a loved one or friend goes missing or doesn't return home when expected.
For people living with or caring for someone with dementia, this may be quite common. The Herbert Protocol is a national scheme adopted by Surrey Police and other forces across the country.
It encourages carers, families, friends or neighbours, to hold information about the person with dementia that can help the police find them if they do go missing.
For more information and to download the form click here
Please consider GPS tagging to assist in locating the adult.
I have been reported as missing but I am safe and don't want people to know where I am, what should I do?
There are sometimes occasions when someone will be reported as missing by a friend or relative but have simply left home and do not wish to return.
If you are an adult and the police are not looking for you in relation to a crime or legal order then the police have no powers to return you home against your wishes and have no legal obligation to disclose your whereabouts.
We would always advise you to make contact with friends and family to try to reassure them you are safe and well.
In such cases we will ask to speak to you in person so that we can check that you are safe and well, you can do this by meeting an officer at a convenient location or calling into a police station.
If you’ve run away from home or are thinking about doing so you can call or text the Runaway Helpline free on 116 000 (https://www.runawayhelpline.org.uk/)