Reporting a Missing Person
Police Scotland takes every report of a missing person seriously
Most people who go missing return within 48 hrs however if you have established that someone is missing and you are concerned report this immediately – remember you do not have to wait 24hrs before reporting them missing.
How can I report someone missing to Police Scotland?
- By Phone: If it is an emergency and you feel the person maybe at risk of harm, immediately call 999. In other circumstances dial 101
- By a visit to a police office
- Contact with a Police Officer
What happens when I report someone missing to Police Scotland?
Once we have received a report of a missing person, the investigation into finding them commences. As part of this, an officer is deployed to obtain further details of the incident. With the help of the person reporting the incident the officer will obtain as much information as possible about the circumstances including a photograph, of the missing person, if available.
From the information received an assessment is made as to how much risk the missing person poses to themselves or to members of the public and if they will be exposed to risk of harm by others.
We take into account the following vulnerabilities:
- The person’s age
- The circumstances of the disappearance
- Their health and whether they need essential medication or treatment
- Whether the disappearance is out of character
- The context suggests the person maybe subject to a crime
- Whether the missing person has financial, employment or relationship problems.
Immediate enquiries will be undertaken by the Investigating Officer to try to find the missing person as soon as possible. Depending on the circumstances, the investigation may involve other specialist officers including the CID.
What you can do to help us
- Photograph(s) We'll ask you for recent photographs of the missing person. You will get these photos back but we may need to take them away at first. Emailing a photo is fine too, so if you have one or more good photos ready that will help.
- Search We usually search the home or place where the missing person was last seen, including any extensions, garages, outhouses, sheds, gardens etc nearby. You may wish to look in these places yourself if you haven’t already done so, but we will still need to search as part of the investigation.
- Health We'll ask about the health of the person who is missing. If you know or can find out anything about the missing person's health, including their doctor's details and any medicine they take, this will help.
- Family and friends We'll ask about the family and friends of the missing person. You can contact these people yourself - they may have seen the missing person or have recent information which could help.
- Social media You might be able to look at the missing person's social media accounts quickly. You can help us by looking for any activity which could help find out where they might be.
Don't worry if you aren't able to do all of these things but it will help us if you can think about them when you report someone missing.
How Police Scotland is dedicated to finding Missing Persons
When responding to a report we have to consider:
- The well-being of the missing person
- An individual’s right to go ‘missing’ if they do not want to be found
- Providing relevant support for the relatives and friends of the missing person
- Whether the missing person may have been the victim of a serious crime
- The appropriate level of resources to find the person quickly and safely
- We will pursue all lines of enquiry until they are exhausted.
Police Scotland has Missing Person Coordinators located across every local division in Scotland. Our local Coordinators support and oversee all missing person investigations.
They work in partnership with all Scottish local authorities and other partners to ensure that missing persons have the correct level of support once they are found.
Police Scotland works in close partnership with the Missing People Charity - the only charity in the UK which specialises in, and is dedicated to, bringing missing children and adults back together with their families.
They can be contacted via telephone on free phone 116 000 or by visiting the website at www.missingpeople.org.uk.
Runaway Helpline service is for people who are thinking about running away, have already run away or have been away and want to come back.
It is a free service, available 24 hours a day, you can call or text on 116000 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org. It's all confidential
Child Rescue Alert
Child Rescue Alert (CRA) is a partnership between the Police, media and the public that seeks the assistance of the public where there is a valid concern that a missing child may be at risk of serious harm. To register for free Child Rescue Alerts with our partners at the Missing People Charity text HERO and your postcode to 85080.
Purple Alert is a free app designed by people living with dementia and carers, Alzheimer Scotland and partner agencies to help find people living with dementia if they are lost. Purple Alert is available for free download here.
Additional information and support can also be sought from the following organisations:
Breathing Space www.breathingspace.scot
The Samaritans www.samaritans.org
Alzheimer Scotland www.alzscot.org
UK Missing Persons Bureau www.missingpersons.police.uk
Dementia Circle https://www.dementiacircle.org/
Children 1st https://www.children1st.org.uk/