Reported somebody missing, what happens next?
As somebody who has reported a missing person, or a family member of a missing person, Thames Valley Police are only too aware that this is a very anxious time for you. You will undoubtedly have many questions about the police investigation and why certain procedures need to take place. This notice is intended to answer some of the most frequently asked questions and also to signpost you for further support and guidance.
In most cases a police officer will visit you in order to gather some more information. They will ask lots of questions about the person who has gone missing in order to help us locate them as quickly as possible. This information will be stored and retained on the police record management system in line with national guidance, but also so that in the event that the person should go missing again we will already have lots of information to help us.
The officer will need to search the address and any outbuildings occupied by the person who has gone missing, and in some circumstances other addresses the missing person has access to. This is to help the police to find the missing person as quickly as possible. It has been known for missing people to be found within the property, or the grounds of the property, unbeknown to those looking for them.
There may also be useful information at the address that will help us with our investigation. If officers come across any items that they want to examine, copy and retain they may take these from the address, this includes items such as diaries, address books etc. These items will be returned following the conclusion of the investigation.
This search is being carried out with your consent and if for any reason you are not happy with a search being completed please inform the officers at the address.
The officer may ask you to provide a photograph of the missing person. This is to help us to identify them when we are carrying out enquiries, for example looking for them on CCTV. The photograph will be scanned and uploaded to the police record management system and will be retained in order to assist future missing episodes. If you have provided an original photograph the officer will return it to you as soon as possible.
Support for you:
In some cases the police may refer you to the Missing People charity who can support you at this difficult time, but not in all cases. However, if you would like support then please contact the Missing People Charity online or by phone: 116 000.
Support for the missing person:
The missing people charity may send a text message to the missing person to encourage them to get in touch, this is only done in certain circumstances.
In some cases the police will use the media to help us to locate a missing person, this is not done in all cases and if possible the police will notify you before this is done.
In most cases missing people turn up very quickly, but in some cases the police will need to conduct protracted enquiries in order to help us to locate them, this may include carrying out banking enquiries, contacting the missing person’s friends, family and their work place.
In some circumstances the police will share information about the missing person with partner agencies such as Social Services, Health or Education. The police and our partners have a statutory responsibility to share information about people if we are concerned about them.
The police will only carry out proportionate enquiries in order to assist us to locate your family member or friend. All enquiries carried out are always done with the missing persons best interests in mind. If you are concerned about any of the enquires the police may make please contact the officer dealing with your report or call 101 quoting the reference number you have been given.
Our Privacy Notice aims to tell you how Thames Valley Police use and disclose personal data. It also explains the rights available to you in respect of our processing. Read the Thames Valley Police Privacy Notice.
When the missing person returns please notify the police as soon as possible. In most cases the police will need to come to speak to the missing person face to face.
Please direct the missing person to our 'Information for people who have been reported missing' page which contains some information that may be useful to them following their missing episode.