Where Do I Start?
The first few hours in a missing person's search are often referred to as 'The Golden Hours'. In this time quite often the missing person is found, and there are a number of steps you can take initially yourself. If at any point in this list you feel unable to carry on or need help, advice or just someone to make some calls for you then just call our Operations Team on 020 7047 5060 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now, on to those first steps:
Try calling the hotel or lodgings they were staying at - do they know where they've gone?
Check where they told you they were going - last year we closed a case where the mother was frantic with worry because she hadn't recieved her daily phone call. It turned out her son was backpacking through a rain forest with no mobile signal.
Try calling friends they were travelling with.
Check the emails or letters they recently sent - do they indicate where they might be?
Check emails, calls and messages sent to other family members and friends - does that reveal anything?
In the case of younger people, consider the time of day - is it likely they may still be in bed with a bit of a hangover? The hotel or lodgings should be able to confirm they're in their room for you.
If all of this draws a blank, then its time to move to the next step. Never feel like you are being 'too worried' - this is a perfectly natural reaction. Try to remain calm, and:
Call the police and hospitals in the area to see if they've been taken ill, or perhaps got in to a bit of trouble.
If you still have no idea where they are, its best to prepare some information and make a few telephone calls. The information you'll need regarding the missing person is:
Full, (passport), name;
Date and place of birth;
Time, date and place of the last contact recived from them;
Their mobile phone number, if they have it, and email address, or any other method you use of contacting them, such as Facebook.
You should then call the following people:
You should first call the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, (FCO), on 020 7008 1500 and ask for the Consular Directorate. The FCO can offer a multitude of services and will assign you a case worker. They will quickly be able to talk to the British Embassy in the country concerned and help you in a number of ways.
You should then report the person missing to your local police force here in the UK. You can request that they inform the UK National Centre Bureau of Interpol, who can investigate and liaise with foreign police forces. Your local police force may assign you a family liaison officer (FLO). You can find the number of your local force here (opens in new window).
You can then call us, and we will take you through some initial questions to get as much information as possible about the case. We can liaise with the FCO and Police for you but you must call them first to report the person missing.
Once we get to this stage there are a lot of things we can do to help you. To find out what they are, and which ones are suited to your situation, head over to the next section: 'What Can Missing Abroad Do?'