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Missing Persons (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Who are missing persons?

Any person, whether an adult or a child, reported missing to police whose whereabouts is unknown and where there are fears for the safety or concerns for the welfare of that person.Missing persons' photographs may be posted on bulletin boards, postcards, and websites, along with a phone number to be contacted if a sighting has been made.

2. What to do if I am missing?

It is not a crime to be missing. Adults may choose to leave home and cut off all contact with friends and family. This means law enforcement is limited in what it can do in these situations. Even if law enforcement locates an adult missing person, they cannot divulge any information about that person without specific permission from that person.

Note that by being a missing person you may put yourself in an unsafe position, making you sensitive to becoming a victim of a crime, or forcing you to commit a crime to stay 'missing'.

3. What to do if I am missing and I want to let people know that I am okay?

If you are a victim of a crime, a run away or simply went missing, there a several steps that you can take to be reunited with your family. It is very important that if f you have been reported missing to the police and you want to let people know that you are okay, the easiest thing to do is to:

  • Contact your family and let them know where you are and that you are safe
  • Visit the nearest police station and take a photo ID or a friendwith you
  • Inform the police of the true reasons why you went missing
  • If you were a victim of a crime, give the police as much details as possible.

4. What are the reasons that people go missing?

Many people go missing for a number of reasons that includes:

  • Victim of a crime
  • Family conflict
  • Wanting to become independent
  • Being the victim of a crime
  • Forgetting to tell someone where you are going
  • Mental health problems
  • Drugs/alcohol abuse
  • Other abuse and neglect.

5. When is a person considered missing?

A person should be considered missing after you haven't heard from them

If the individual truly is a threat to himself or others or is a vulnerable adult, you should go to your respective police station or department to make your report unless there is evidence of foul play. Then call 919. Reports may not be made by phone to your station or department.

6. How long am I required to wait to report my loved one missing?

If you are at all worried about someone you believe is missing then do not wait to report this to police. YOU DO NOT HAVE TO WAIT 24 HOURS TO REPORT SOMEONE MISSING. In an emergency dial 919. There is no waiting period.

7. How do I report a missing person?

There are several ways you can report someone missing depending upon the circumstances. For example, if your child becomes lost at an event or crowd, you can notify a police officer or call 919. Any person can be reported as missing as soon as the a loved one or friend thinks that something out of the ordinary has happened to him/her and you have given him/her time to return and still no contact has been made.The only thing needed to report someone as missing, is the basic information on the missing person and, preferably, the most recent photograph of the person. In order to initiate a missing person report you must first, contact your local police department or station.

First hand reporting from a relative or friend is the most common way that Police are notified of a missing person. The Police will take reports of missing persons in any of the following formats:

  • Calls by telephone to a police station
  • By a visit to a police station
  • Contact with a Police Officer away from a police station

8. What do I do if I find a missing person after I've already reported them missing?

9. What can I do if a loved one goes missing abroad?

In the event that the person is missing abroad, report the matter to your local police. Details will be taken by the police and passed to Interpol who will then initiate enquiries in the country in which the person was last seen. You may also wish to contact the Foreign Affairs or Consulate of that country or city.

9. What to do if see a missing person?

Contact your local police station or department or Crime Stoppers on 242-394-TIPS. Any information received will be treated in confidence.

10. When is a missing person presumed dead?

In most common law jurisdictions a missing person can be declared dead in absentia (or "legally dead") after seven years. This time frame may be reduced in certain cases, such as deaths in major battles or mass disasters such as the September 11, 2001 attacks.