Reporting a missing person
There is no minimum time requirement for reporting someone missing.
Report to police
As soon as someone’s whereabouts is unknown and there is concern for their safety and welfare, they can be reported missing to police. Police will prioritise suspicious cases, missing children, and those with mental illness. Try to file the report in person, and convey the reasons for your concerns (it may help to go with someone who shares your worry). Police must take reports of missing persons – do not accept being sent away.
Consider the following as you prepare to report to the police:
- Download, save and complete: Missing Person Details Form
- Provide the most appropriate recent photograph(s) and be prepared for them to be used across media.
- Be completely honest — solid information helps police prioritise. Pass on additional details as they occur to you.
- Try to establish a good relationship with the police officers handling the case.
- If applicable, ask police to triangulate their mobile phone (this can only be done if the phone is switched on).
- Ask that all stations in surrounding areas are alerted via internal communications.
- Check if the officer in charge has reason to advise against media attention before alerting media.
Remember that going missing is not a crime so police cannot make every missing person a priority. And don’t overestimate police resources – what you see on TV often isn’t realistic.
National Missing Persons Coordination Centre
National Missing Persons Coordination Centre (NMPCC) is a government-funded body that complements the roles of state and territory police missing persons units. They operate under the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and are the official platform for Australian missing persons. NMPCC has arrangements with Foxtel and Chemist Warehouse to promote awareness. You must request that your loved one is added to their database – it is not automatic. They also have publications like reports and fact sheets regarding a range of issues relevant to missing persons. See: National Missing Persons Coordination Centre
If your loved one is found
Once they have been located, it is important to inform the relevant parties – police, family and friends. In the event you’ve amassed public support via social media, you should also communicate the news to your audience. Pages and accounts can be disabled or removed if/when you see fit.