Missing Persons‎ > ‎

Initial Attending Officer Questions

Initial attendance and onward management of search and enquiry.


Remember a missing person notification can become a homicide enquiry. 


Consider statement taking as a record of an important event. At the very least they may well be required by HM Coroner. 



  • Conduct full search of home address and outbuildings – Police Search Advisor advice 
  • If person at risk, consider using patrol car/air support with public address system. 
  • Consider house-to-house enquiries in vicinity of home address and the area missing person was last seen. 
  • Co-ordinated searches MUST be led by a Police Search Advisor (PolSA). Qualified Volunteer Search Teams should be considered for both rural and urban searches. 
  • Other considerations are air support, marine unit, dogs and horses. Also consider Special Constabulary. 
  • It must be appreciated that a search for a living person is likely to be different than one for a body. 


Friends / relatives

  • Ensure details of all known relatives/friends/associates who are likely to come into contact with missing person are recorded. Consider background checks and searches of home addresses. 
  • If appropriate make enquiries at missing person’s school, or place of work, liaise with head teacher or relevant manager first. Interview teachers and members of staff. 
  • Check lockers, desks and as similar these may hold clues. 


Circulation and notification

  • Inform a detective via supervision if there are circumstances which give cause for concern. 
  • Update Communications Centre with description and circumstances for early local circulation. 
  • Circulate missing person via PNC. Consider circulating any vehicle used or connected with subject which cannot be accounted for, check and update local intelligence records. 
  • Update person reporting as to proposed course of police action and impress on them the importance of informing the police of any contact from missing person (telephone calls, letters, sightings and of course their actual return). 
  • Pass description to CCTV control rooms. 
  • Consider media circulation via press office. Liaise with Crime Manager regarding publicity. 
  • Consult FIB when considering national police circulation, eg, Police Gazette, national bulletins. 
  • Consider fairgrounds, pop concert venues, sports grounds, shopping centres and such like. 


  • Creation of any missing person report on PNC automatically creates a missing person report on the Schengen Information System (SIS) at the same time. If the case is unusual, eg, an abduction, consider drawing the case to the attention of the Sirene UK Bureau at NCIS, provide any supplementary information as requested. 


Other sources of information

  • Check the website uk.missingkids.com
  • Check local force website for links to other organisations offering assistance. 


Missing persons property

  • Check for clues of disappearance. What property may have been taken, eg, money, clothing, travel documents, suitcase, passports, mobile telephone, pager (record numbers). 
  • Does the missing person have a diary or an electronic organiser? It may hold clues. 
  • Do the family own a computer with Internet access? Consider checking emails, sent and received. 
  • (Exercise caution when checking computers, if in doubt seek specialist assistance). 


Missing person’s telephone

  • Have telephone numbers, unknown to person reporting, appeared on telephone bill? Seize bill and consider subscribers check 
  • Do not forget the 1471 facility. 


Missing Persons medical needs

  • Record all medication prescribed to the missing person and whether it has been taken.  
  • Record details of illnesses.
  • Consider contacting missing person’s doctor. 


At risk / possible abduction

  • If appropriate liaise with Child Abuse Investigation Unit and Social Services regarding the Child Protection Register. 
  • In cases where a child may have been taken by a parent/guardian, establish who has parental responsibility.
  • Supervisor must be informed immediately. 
  • If abduction abroad is suspected consideration must be given to INTERPOL involvement. 


Religious / cultural considerations

  • Are there religious or cultural issues which should be considered? 


Fast time actions

  • Hospital checks (private/ NHS/ Mental Health/ Clinics)
  • CCTV 
  • Be aware of other CCTV systems, eg, local authority, transport and commercial factories, filling stations. 


Missing persons finances / benefits

  • Check missing person’s bank/building society. Have there been any withdrawals? 
  • Banks and building societies have CCTV systems fitted, as do some cash machines. 
  • Markers can be placed on accounts of interest to the police. This allows the missing person to be tracked via cash withdrawals. 
  • Obtain missing person’s National Insurance number and contact DSS regarding recent transactions. 


Missing Persons Family

  • Update family regularly with progress of enquiries. 
  • If child is in care and joint care agreement with parents in force that parents and carer are kept informed