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Initial Actions and checklist

Initial Officer Actions


The below actions comprise of actions officers must either consider or conduct in every case of a missing person. 


·     Consider – is their clear information that shows missing person is absent, as opposed to missing. Actions must be proportionate to enquiry at hand. Developing this information using the action list as a guide will establish risk.


·     Conduct – Initial attending officer must conduct these actions or ensure supervisor is aware of what has not been completed. 


Record your actions investigation on the missing person report and include dates, times and extent of actions.



Home address

Thorough search to be made. 


Record details of extent of search and what was not searched – records stating ‘search completed’ insufficient to evaluate quality of search conducted.


Other premises

If missing from place other than 1 above, details of search to be recorded or whether still required.


Interview all witnesses to the disappearance

Record dates, times of disappearance, record any event that may have led to disappearance. Obtain signature to witness report. Record witness account verbatim where possible.


Obtain lists of friends including telephone numbers

TRY and TASK – any quick time enquiries that lead to immediate location of missing person prevents unnecessary stress for family and missing person. Reduces impact of investigation on police resources.


Check local hospitals

Record details in log. Check with South East Coast Ambulance Service for any calls to them (not all ambulance calls results in hospital admission). 


Ensure checks include searches for unknown persons and persons matching description.


Obtain photograph / Present location?

Ensure photograph is scanned onto missing person report. Once completed – return original to family/ friends. 

Note: photographs from police records highly unlikely to be suitable for media release. A family provided photograph is essential in the first instance to prevent delays in media release at later time.



Check custody 

Avoid limiting search to family provided name of the missing person – missing person may have alias on local computer and custody recorded in that name. Additionally check for unknown persons in custody and x ref with other forces if suspected missing person may have travelled outside county.


Place of work

Check with work recent demeanour. Access to specialist tools / equipment (consideration possible means to commit suicide). Colleagues in which they might confide. Check with human resources department reference recent work record AND disclosures by missing person of domestic violence / stalking concerns. Does missing person have access to work vehicles? Are vehicle accounted for. Are vehicles GPS tagged to enable quick time tracing.


School/College (obtain details of friends/classmates and interview)

Obtain details of class tutor/ course director. Establish trends or changes in work completion. Has missing person received notification of course failure or other news concerning ongoing attendance to school/ college.


Social Services 

Obtain contact details for named social worker and likely working pattern to enable planned contact to take place.


PNC check

Check for recent arrests – indicate missing person may be in custody / on bail. Arrests for sensitive offences may indicate vulnerability to missing person /others.

Consider PNC check on partner / family members if Honour Based Violence (HBV) is suspected (any possibility of HBV to be brought to attention of supervisor without delay)


PNC #TE check

Obtained through PNC bureau – this checks whether person being searched has been previously checked on the police national computer by another person within the user defined search dates and times.


An essential consideration should be made to use PNC #TE if checking partners/ family where domestic violence/ HBV is suspected. 


PNC – circulation

Record on missing person log that missing person is circulated and check has been completed.


Check / interrogate local information systems

Checks of local information systems. Must not be limited to a single system, consider other relevant systems including those not police owned such as: 


·     Immigration

·     Customs

·     Council

·     Locally unavailable domestic abuse databases

·     Voters

·     Sex offender register

(List is not exhaustive)


Checking of intelligence database to extend beyond quick view and whether missing person is in detention.


Consider local information, recent sightings and otherwise not recorded associates, places seen, demeanour etc. 


Extend search to checking associates who are known to be close to missing person. 


Record any warning markers, mental health issues, behaviour in police custody – cross reference police detention logs, custody records and medical notes to aid complete understanding of medical/ health concerns. (Consider missing persons family / friends may be unaware of health issues if missing person has chosen not to confide in them).


Note any upcoming court cases – indicators of stress


Notify local Domestic Violence Officer 

Domestic violence history involving missing person is a serious indicator of risk where information is supplied by known perpetrator of abuse. Any sightings or information that missing person is safe and well from anyone suspected of domestic abuse MUST be independently corroborated. 


Consider verifying with other family members any history of domestic abuse. Believing there is no history of domestic abuse because police have no record does not mean there is no domestic history. 


Checks with both missing person and partner may show history of abuse with previous partners.