Crime Stoppers is the default national line to report sightings of missing persons, but you may want a more direct approach.
Direct contact with the public
The advantage of a hotline is that you cut out the middlemen (Crime Stoppers volunteers and police) which minimises delay. You know the missing person better than police so you are able to prioritise which calls and possible sightings are worth following up. Write down the details of calls received and forward them to the police officer working on your case if you feel the information is worth investigating.
Advice on setting up a hotline
Setting up a hotline is relatively cheap and easy; all you will need to get is a handset, sim card and some prepaid credit. You will also need to publicise the number so that people know to call it. Some tips on setting up a hotline include:
- Keep the hotline separate to your personal mobile number.
- Update your communications (posters, social media etc.) with details of the number.
- Promote the immediacy of the hotline (urging the public to contact you directly via the hotline if their information is urgent).
- Write and send out a media release when the hotline is activated. See: Media attention
Setting up a hotline is a big commitment. You’ll need to be prepared to speak to members of the public and to manage the emotions that go with hearing news of sightings and possible sightings. You should consider sharing the responsibility with a small group of friends or family to avoid additional mental exhaustion. Having a public hotline number can also make you a target for hoaxes and pranks, so keep your wits about you.