What to do
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 contact us and we'll help you.
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 - once 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.
Have a look at their Facebook or Twitter - do they give any ideas?
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 Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, (FCDO), on
020 2008 5000 and ask for Consular Support for the country in question.
The FCDO can offer a multitude of services and are skilled, well trained and ready to help.
They will quickly be able to talk to the British Embassy in the country concerned and help you in a number of ways.
They will check to see if the person has 'come to notice'. This means whether the British Embassy has been notified of any accident, hospitalisation, arrest and much more and can quickly ascertain their whereabouts.
If they don't have any record, they will take details and alert the Embassy in country, and keep you updated if anything comes up.
You should then report the person missing to your local police force here in the UK. This can sometimes be tricky but the key is in getting the right person. Ask to speak to an International or Interpol Liaison Officer, or someone who at least has experience of international missing cases.
They should take the same details as the FCDO and inform the UK National Centre Bureau of Interpol, who liaise with foreign police forces. Your local police force may assign you a family liaison officer (FLO).
You can then contact 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 FCDO and Police for you but you must call them first to report the person missing. When you do this please let them know that we are working on your behalf if you would like us to contact them.
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: 'Get help.'