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Missing persons

Northumbria Police 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.

The definition of a missing person is:

Anyone whose whereabouts cannot be established and where the circumstances are out of character or the context suggests the person may be the subject of crime or at risk of harm to themselves or others.

The definition of an absent person is:

Anyone over the age of 18 who is not at a place where they are expected or required to be, when the behaviour is not out of character and there is no apparent risk.

What to do if someone you know goes missing

Before calling the police, take the following steps to try to locate the missing person

  • Search their home or the place they were last seen, in case they are hiding or fallen and suffered injury. Remember that children can hide in small spaces.
  • Look out for any notes or clues that may suggest where they may be.  Check diaries, social media or email messages.
  • Check to see if they have left you a message on your phone voicemail or email.
  • Contact family members, friends and the person’s place of work to verify that they are missing and not just somewhere unexpected.
  • Check places of significance to the person, i.e. parks where they may play, or gather with friends.


How to report a missing person

If you are concerned about someone and want to report them as missing please call us on 101. You do not need to wait 24 hours to report someone as missing. If you think the missing person is at risk of immediate serious harm please call 999.

What information do I need before I ring?

It would be helpful to provide us with full names, date of birth or age, home address, vehicle details, contact numbers, where they were last seen and what they were wearing at the time. It’s also important that we’re made aware of immediate concerns such as mental health, physical health issues or other vulnerabilities. 

Do I need to wait 24 hours before I report someone missing?

You do not need to wait 24 hours to report someone as missing. If you have genuine concerns and have been unable to locate the person yourselves, please contact us to help.

Who can report someone as missing?

Anyone can contact us to report someone missing. We would recommend that you make initial enquiries with the person’s close family and friends in case they’ve had contact with the person.

Do I need to attend my local police station to report someone missing?

No, you no longer need to attend your local station to report your concerns. You can contact 101 to report someone as missing. Please use 999 if they are vulnerable and you believe they are in immediate danger.

What happens once you have reported someone missing?

We will use the information that you supply to assess the level of risk that the person may be at while missing. We will then consider all appropriate and necessary lines of enquiry.

If the missing person returns, ring 101 and let us know. We may wish to see them to confirm that they have returned safe and well.

The Herbert Protocol

The Herbert protocol is a national scheme which encourages carers and families to compile useful information which could be used in the event of a vulnerable person going missing.

The Herbert Protocol initiative is named after George Herbert, a war veteran of the Normandy landings, who lived with Dementia.

As a carer, family member or friend, you can complete a form in advance, recording all vital details, such as medication required, mobile numbers, places previously located or a photograph of them. The form is kept in the home/care setting so the information can be easily accessed by police and other agencies.

This form could make a real difference. It could help reduce the amount of time a vulnerable person is missing, bringing them to safety even quicker.

Download the Herbert Protocol form

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