Missing people

To report a missing person, submit our online form or call 101. If it is an emergency and you feel that the missing person may be at risk of immediate harm, dial 999.

There is no time limit on when you can report a missing person – you don’t have to wait 24 hours.

The Missing Persons Advice Leaflet provides advice and guidance for those who report missing people, what you can expect in terms of service from the police and our expectations of the help and contact we need from you too.  Included is a section with information on a number of national support agencies.

Before you report someone as missing:

  • Search their home or the place the person was last seen, in case they are hiding or may have fallen and been injured - remember that children can hide in very small spaces.
  • Look out for any notes or clues that may suggest where they may be.
  • Check to see if they have left you a message on your phone, voicemail or online.
  • Contact family members, friends and the person’s place of work to verify that they are actually missing and not simply somewhere unexpected.

What we need from you:

When you report someone as a missing person we will:

  • ask you for full details of the missing person, including description and circumstances of their disappearance
  • ask you what you have done to try and locate the missing person
  • ask questions to assess whether the person is at low, medium or high risk (see below)
  • begin enquiries straight away where a person is considered at high or medium risk
  • ask for your consent to use publicity
  • keep you informed of the progress of the enquiry
  • speak to the missing person when found to try to reduce the chances of them going missing again.

Risk levels:

When a person is reported missing we will assess whether the person is at low, medium or high risk:

  • Low Risk suggests there is no apparent threat of danger to either the missing person or the public.
  • Medium Risk means it is possible that the missing person is in danger or is a threat to him/herself or others.
  • High Risk means we believe there is a real and immediate danger to the safety of the missing person or to the public.

How we assess the level of risk:

We will assess the level of risk by building up as accurate a picture of the person and their personal circumstances as possible. To do this we will take in to account such things as:

  • the person’s age
  • whether they need essential medication or treatment
  • whether they are on the Child Protection Register.

We will also consider the circumstances of the disappearance, such as whether:

  • the disappearance is out of character
  • there is a suspicion of murder
  • the missing person has financial, employment or relationship problems.

Herbert Protocol Missing Person Incident Form

The “Herbert Protocol” Missing Person Incident Form is designed to make sure that, if someone goes missing, the police can get access to important information about that person as soon as possible.

We understand that this can be a deeply upsetting time for those involved, and that being asked by a police officer to remember all sorts of different information can add to this worry.  These forms, and the information they contain, are designed to help remove some of that stress.

Download the Herbert Protocol Form

Download the Herbert Protocol Information Leaflet

How is this being rolled out?

Initially this will be rolled out in Suffolk to Care Homes only and distributed by Adult Safeguarding Teams on their routine visits.

This can be used by relatives of persons cared for in their own homes.

When should I complete this?

As soon as possible.

The form can be completed at your leisure, with no time pressure or urgency. That said, the sooner the form is ready, the quicker it can be used if needed.

When you have completed the form, please keep it in a prominent position – and make sure relatives and carers know where it is and that you are part of The Herbert Protocol.

Perhaps you might want to make a copy of the information form for another relative, friends or neighbours.

How much detail is needed?

Whilst sometimes more information is better, Police Officers want an overview rather than in depth detail. So while we need to know some key information, we don’t need to know everything. If you are writing the information by hand, please try to make sure that it is easily readable for someone perhaps not used to your handwriting. You don't have to complete everything.

What will happen to this information when I have completed the form?

There is no need for the police or anyone else to have access to this information unless the person to whom it refers goes missing. You keep the information and hand it over when the police need it – it will be used to help the police to find your loved one as soon as possible, and nothing more.

We will never share your information with anyone else, unless as a part of a live investigation it is necessary to do so to safeguard someone.


Philomena Protocol

What Is the Philomena Protocol?

The Philomena Protocol is similar to the Herbert Protocol, it is designed to provide the police with accurate, up to date information about a child who has gone missing from care homes and other local authority accommodation. Currently this protocol is only open to those children living in a placement / under local authority care.

In essence it is an extensive form that is filled out by a care provider when a new child is placed with them. The form contains a multitude of information about a child in their care.

This form is then sent to the police (and the child's social worker if applicable) when a missing episode occurs. The placement still calls 101 - but in trials it has been shown the email is received quicker than the calls and a missing person can be input onto the system in a timelier fashion. The placement is then contacted and informed to hang up their call whilst also gaining any further information that may have been missed freeing up the 101 system. 

The form would also be transferred with the child when they move placements ensuring the good transfer of information between placements.

Why are we doing this?

This protocol looks to not only reduce missing episodes, but also to expeditiously obtain quality information about a missing person. This will assist the police and specific partners locate and safeguard a missing person at the earliest opportunity.

It aims to reduce double keying for police call taking and control centre staff, along with transferring more detailed information onto police systems more efficiently.

It has been shown to reduce the amount of time a person reporting someone missing spends on the 101-call system and a decrease in the amount of time it takes to record a missing person.

Further to this, it has also been shown in some cases to empower the child and reduce missing episodes through a sense of being wanted and cared for.