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Missing Persons

If a friend or loved one goes missing it can be very distressing. We are here to find the person and ensure their safety and wellbeing.

If you cannot get in touch with someone and are concerned for their welfare it is important that you contact us as soon as you can to report the person missing.

What information do police need to start looking for a missing person?

In order for us to start looking for the person we will need to know some important information, including:

  • The person’s details and a physical description of them.
  • Where the person is missing from.
  • Any clothing the person may be wearing.
  • Whether their absence appears to be planned (clothing or valuables missing).
  • Any vehicles the person may have access to.
  • Any distinguishing features the person may have.
  • Any telephone number or social media accounts they may have.
  • Any addresses the person may go to, or friends they may have.

In addition to this the call taker will also ask you a number of questions which help us assess the level of risk, these include:

  • Any medical conditions the person may have and any vital medication they need.
  • Whether the person has any known mental health conditions.
  • The reason (if known) for the person’s disappearance.
  • If there have been any recent life changing events which would affect their physical or mental wellbeing.
  • If the person is dependent on alcohol or drugs (prescribed or illegal).

We understand that you may not know the answers to any of these questions but they help us to build up a picture of the missing person’s lifestyle and assess any immediate risks to their safety and wellbeing.

Police will commence a missing person search and will attend with you to record further details whilst the search is in progress. You may be asked for a recent picture of the missing person to help us locate them.

A search for a missing person, especially a high risk missing person, uses police officers from all over Northern Ireland. We will keep you updated with our progress.

It is vital that if you receive any communication with the missing person while we are searching for them, you let us know as soon as possible. It may help us locate them and ensure their wellbeing faster.

Once we locate someone we will ensure their physical and mental wellbeing. If required, we will task medical or mental health professionals to assess the person. You should note that if you report an adult missing and we locate them, they may not wish their location known. In this instance we will update you that they are safe and well, but we cannot disclose their location.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How will police appeal to find a missing person?

Officers can use a range of options to publicly appeal for information such as; local media outlets, social media platforms and charities like ‘Missing People.’

An appeal, regardless of whether it’s online or a larger campaign will usually have all of the following information.

  • Name of the missing person
  • A suitable recent photo
  • Area missing from/last known location
  • Date missing
  • Age at disappearance
  • Other helpful information, and a supportive message
  • Reporting details

Why do you post social media appeals for missing persons?

We post social media appeals to reach a large, often targeted audience as quickly as possible. We have found that these types of online appeals receive a lot of attention and have resulted in information that has led to us locating missing persons safely in the past. Every minute counts when a person goes missing so we get information out to the public as quickly and as far reaching as possible.

Why do you continue to issue appeals for people that frequently go missing?

Our priority is to locate the missing person as quickly and safely as possible. Officers will appeal for information from the public in order to assist with this.

Do you post missing persons appeals for those wanted for criminal offences?

Each and every person for which an appeal is posted, must meet the definition of a missing person. ‘Wanted’ appeals for those we are trying to locate in connection with a potential criminal offence will be worded as such.

Why are most of the missing people in Northern Ireland under 18?

Actually, statistics in Northern Ireland would show that it is nearly a 50/50 split for missing children and adults.

Why do Police need to have eyes on an individual to declare them ‘not missing’?

Police must be totally satisfied that the missing person is safe and well, and can confirm their identity.


Long-Term Missing Persons Appeal Page