Investigating Disappeared Individuals

Responding to reports of missing persons is one of the most demanding tasks in law enforcement. People go missing in a variety of ways, both intentionally and unintentionally.

When an adult disappears, law enforcement will determine whether they voluntarily disappeared or are at risk of foul play. This will affect 사람찾기흥신소 the urgency of the case and the resources used to investigate it.

Information Gathering

When investigating disappeared individuals, it is important to collect information as quickly and thoroughly as possible. This is especially true if the person has been missing for a significant length of time. This can be done by conducting enquiries through the person’s friends, colleagues, and social media accounts. These searches can also help to identify clues that could point to the location of the person.

A clear picture of the missing person’s lifestyle should be established at an early stage. This will guide investigations and inform risk assessments. It should include family, home, work and other activities. It should also incorporate information known about the person’s abilities and limitations, including a disability.

ANPR and mobile phone GPS tracking data can be used to understand the movements of missing persons. However, this can only be done if it is legally permissible and with the consent of the individual. The IO should seek the advice of an accredited financial investigation officer(opens in new tab) on how to access this information and make best use of it.

In addition to searching and other proactive lines of enquiry, the IO should consider the possibility of obtaining samples for DNA and fingerprints, subject to legal constraints. The IO should take into account the risk assessment, the circumstances of the disappearance and prevailing legislation when making this decision.


In long term missing person cases, interviewing is critical. People who have gone missing for extended periods often become “cold-cases” as the police are unable to find new leads, and families struggle with grief and hopelessness. Interviewing is an effective investigative technique that is largely ignored in favour of high-tech search methods promoted by the media and popular culture.

Investigations into disappearances are typically based on information that is retrieved through interviews with relatives, friends and other associates. Interviews can also be conducted with organisations that hold live data, such as telecommunications providers or banks. Enquiries should be proportionate and based on a realistic assessment of the circumstances of the case.

Respondents in the SAI research described prevention interviews as being vital to identify ongoing risk factors, and to ensure that a risk management plan was put in place if the person is likely to go missing again. They also expressed a desire for the interviews to be conducted in their own time and without police involvement. To this end, the SAI-Missing and SAI-Unsolved Missing have been developed as a self-administered interview tool that can be completed by the missing person’s closest associates without a police presence. The tools incorporate best practice interviewing techniques with retrieval support to elicit information on their normal routines, moods and behaviours, alongside instructions for them to consider and report any changes in these since they went missing.


In the case of missing persons, community members can play a significant role in helping police locate them. Vigilance and a keen eye can make all the difference. People can also use their digital footprint to aid investigations by providing information like emails, social media activity and GPS data. Online platforms and databases such as the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NamUs) in the U.S. provide centralized resources and support to investigators.

Another important way to help is by observing the person’s environment, such as their home, neighborhood, places they frequent and their habits. For example, keep in mind what they typically wear, how they get around, who they spend time with and if there are any distinguishing marks or features that can help investigators identify them.

Human rights organizations play a crucial role in addressing the disappearance of individuals, by reuniting families, providing psychological support and pushing for policies to prevent disappearances. These include the International Committee of the Red Cross and the United Nations Enforced Disappearance Convention.

Many families of disappeared individuals face financial strain as a result of the search. They may need to travel, hire private investigators and take time off work. Donating or volunteering for a missing persons organization can be one of the best ways to assist with this issue.


Documentation is a vital part of the investigation process. It enables officers to identify lines of enquiry, and it reveals how well an investigation is being managed. Documentation is particularly important in high-risk missing person cases, and a risk assessment should be made at the outset of every case. This should include an evaluation of any actions taken and a note of the rationale for each. It should also be considered that the circumstances of the disappearance may have a significant impact on the safety of that person and that their risk increases with the length of time that they remain missing.

The documentation required will vary depending on the individual circumstances and is likely to include a search of their last known address for items that could be useful, as well as contacting their relatives and friends and accessing social media data (see Passive data generators). If there is a concern that a missing person may have suffered harm, consideration should be given to enquiries with specialised services, such as the police force’s victim support unit or the National Crime Agency’s Sexual Offences and Missing People Unit.

The investigation of a missing person is a critical incident and needs to be carefully managed to ensure the public are not harmed and that no information is lost. It is important that officers understand the impact on communities and take care when determining a media strategy for a missing person case.