Information for police

Please contact the UK Missing Persons Unit with any queries or questions relating to missing or unidentified cases, even if we are unable to assist directly we will be able to identify an organisation that can.

For more information about how the Unit can support police investigations and gain access to key documents and best practice in missing and unidentified cases, please join our community on the secure POLKA (Police OnLine Knowledge Area) website or visit the Unit's website.

When to notify the UK Missing Persons Unit
The Statutory Code of Practice (2009) requires that police forces notify the Unit of:

  • All UK persons missing for more than 72 hours; this includes foreign nationals missing in the UK and UK residents missing abroad (cases can be notified sooner than 72 hours if the circumstances warrant urgent attention)
  • All unidentified persons, bodies or remains found in the UK who remain unidentified for longer than 48 hours

How to notify the UK Missing Persons Unit 
Many police forces are now able to notify the Missing Persons Unit of missing person cases automatically, however where this is not possible please submit comprehensive details of the case to us by:

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Telephone: 0800 234 6034
Fax: 01256 692571

Specific forms for submitting details of missing and unidentified persons/bodies are available to police via POLKA.

Photographs and dental records, where available, should also be forwarded as soon as possible after notification. 

Practice advice
The Guidance on the Management, Recording and Investigation of Missing Persons was last revised and updated in 2010. There is now also Interim Guidance published in 2013 that provides further information on the new definition of ‘missing’ as approved by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). The guidance and a number of other supporting documents can be downloaded from the Missing Persons Unit Community on the POLKA website.

Child rescue alert 
The Child Rescue Alert (CRA) is a tool available to Senior Investigating Officers for use in abduction or kidnap cases involving a child. Its primary objective is to locate the child and bring them to safety by using media to promptly publish details surrounding the child’s disappearance. The CRA is managed by CEOP but continues to be in collaboration with the Bureau to ensure the most effective response and support is provided.

For further information about the Child Rescue Alert including the criteria for launch and who to contact to request a launch, please go to the Missing Kids website or the Missing Persons Unit community on the POLKA website.

Quarterly returns 
The quarterly return is a statutory requirement for all forces. Detailed guidance on completing the quarterly return can be obtained from us via email. The timetable for the quarterly returns data submission each year is:

1 April - 30 June deadline 21 July

1 July - 30 September deadline 21 October

1 October - 31 December deadline 21 January

1 January - 31 March deadline 21 April

Useful documents
The UK Missing Persons Unit website contains a number of links to helpful documents that may be of interest. Please visit the website for more information.

The Unit's newsletter

Missing Persons Data and Analysis 2010-11

ACPO (2010) Guidance

2013 Interim Guidance

Government Strategy on Missing Children and Adults

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