Life’s full of surprises and you never know what may happen next. Usually, these are pleasant revelations (a long-awaited promotion) or touching moments (birth of your child) but sometimes your life may take a dark turn. There may be an accident, a serious illness or death in your family. These difficult situations are quite common and some of them will sooner or later happen to all of us. But there’s one especially traumatic situation that may strike your family – when someone goes missing.

Shocking statistics

The number of individuals recognised as missing in the UK is alarmingly growing. According to the UK Missing Persons Bureau, in the year 2014/2015 more than 300,000 calls were made to police in England, Scotland and Wales reporting someone missing. Last year the police got more than 1,000 missing person reports a day!  The majority goes missing intentionally, to escape problems with relationships or financial issues. Other may have serious mental health problems, but a considerable percentage may be abducted, or even murdered, which is the blackest scenario.

First steps

First of all, if you think that someone is missing, react as soon as possible, as time is vital to the investigation! Contrary to the popular belief, you don’t have to wait 24 hours to contact the police and report someone as missing. You may be asked for their photo, personal details or a DNA sample, generally every detail that may facilitate their search. Information on what to expect when a loved one goes missing and details of agencies that can provide support and advice are available on the government approved site for missing persons.

The person will be recorded as missing and details concerning the case made available to other police forces within 48 hours. Do not make any hasty moves as, instead of helping, you may impede the investigation.

Detailed and extensive investigation

During the early stages of a missing person investigation, the police devote much effort to the search for your loved one. They use the provided information, search the home address and the area where the person was last seen, check with local hospitals and shelters, review CCTV footage, coordinate media coverage to inform the public and conduct specialist searches with, for example, divers or dogs.  During this time, you may consider helping the police by distributing information using social media, making posters or turning to the media. These activities will help you ‘keep your head busy’ and are a powerful tool for raising awareness about a missing person’s disappearance.

Additional help

Sometimes you may get an impression that the police don’t do as much as possible and the intensity of the search lowers, especially after some time. You may also have your own ideas concerning the search that aren’t treated seriously by police officers. When that happens, consider hiring a private detective. A private eye will have a fresh look on the case and may see something that was overlooked by the police. Also, the more people are involved, the bigger the chance of finding the missing person.

You may also turn to non-governmental organisations that offer psychological support and legal help, like Missing Persons Bureau, Missing People, Missing Kids UK or Look For Them. They provide services which are free of charge and ensure confidentiality.

Invest in prevention

The disappearance of someone close is a difficult experience that unfortunately cannot be fully prevented. But with the help of modern technology, you can successfully lower the possibility of someone going missing. Invest in a GPS tracker to monitor location of its user and see where your child is or if your older parent is lost and needs your help. These devices can be small, light and even smartly concealed in a watch.

If you would like to continue reading on the subject of searching for missing people go to this online article. We hope that this problem never besets you but, as put by Forrest Gump, life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.

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