Missing person in line upWhat happens when someone goes missing?

The holiday season is the time of year when families come together. Unfortunately, for the families of the 180,000 people who go missing in the UK every year (according to the charity Missing People), Christmas can be a difficult occasion.

In this article, we look at the reasons why people disappear and what can you do to assist. We will also discuss what happens when a person is missing overseas and can you really find a missing person.

Why do people disappear?

When someone is missing, many of us immediately assume the worst, thinking they have become victims of kidnapping, criminal activities, or even murders. While misadventure happens, sometimes a person may choose to walk out because of:

  • Mental illness
  • Depression
  • Dementia
  • Substance abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Marriage breakdown
  • Financial issues

It must be noted that choosing to walk away and ignoring family members and friends is not a crime, unless the person in question has been detained under the Mental Health Act, or is legally in the care of another person. Because going missing is not a crime, the police may not be able to assist fully unless they consider the circumstances suspicious.

What should you do if a person you know has gone missing?

The moment you suspect that someone has gone missing, here are eight things that you can do:

  • Contact the police, especially if you have serious concerns about the safety of the person involved. You do not need to wait 24 hours to report someone as missing.
  • Contact the missing people organisations. Almost every country has one such organisation and in the UK, you can call or text 116000, or email 116000@missingpeople.co.uk.
  • Check with the local hospitals.
  • Check with local homeless shelters.
  • Contact common friends.
  • Check their social media accounts.
  • Generate publicity and awareness. This may include launching a search or distribute flyers.
  • If the police do not believe that there is a sufficient risk or concern to investigate, you may consider hiring a private investigator yourself.

What happens if someone is missing overseas?

There are three things you can do when you suspect that someone has gone missing while they are overseas:

  • Contact the police in the country where the person has gone missing.
  • Contact your local police.
  • Contact the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the UK.

Can you really find a missing person?

To successfully find a missing person depends largely on two factors – if the person wants to be found and/or if foul play is involved.

If the disappearance is the result of a criminal act, police are usually involved, but sometimes even they can’t locate the person if they choose not to be found. An intriguing case happened on 25 October 2017 when Dr Ruja Ignatova, a self-styled Cryptoqueen, chose to disappear after her fake cryptocurrency company had exploited thousands of people and their hard-earned money. Police and journalists have been looking for her since then, but no one is successful yet. If you are interested in this story, the BBC has an article on this.

Finding your loved ones this Christmas

If you are thinking of tracing a long-lost family member, locating a runaway relative, or finding an old friend this holiday season, your best bet is to engage a private investigator or a dedicated people tracing team like our specialists at Blackhawk Intelligence. We will work with you and provide you with regular progress reports so you can see how the investigation is proceeding.

To find out more about how we can locate someone for you this Christmas, call us today on +44 (0)20 8108 9317.

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This post is intended to provide information of general interest about current business issues. It should not replace professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances.