checking the microphone and webcam

Missing Persons. An old man files a report for missing…


Bennett (Ben) Dominick was last seen on Saturday January 10, 2015 at a friend’s camp at the Coocoran Opal Fields in Lightning Ridge. His green, Ford Futura sedan was located…


What is the next step after a missing person report is filed?

Once the complaint has been registered, the police goes ahead with tracking down the missing person, taking reliance on the network of counterparts, which is a slow process. To ensure that the matter is taken up effectively, there is a secondary remedy that is available to the person filing a missing person complaint. This is commonly by way of RTI.

  • First, the person making the complaint may file another application, in addition to the complaint, in the concerned police station asking for further developments in the case.
  • Secondly, he may also file a formal RTI in this regard, as it will enable him to keep a check on the efforts being made to find the missing person, and also to exercise his right to information. Since the Police come under such category, application of RTI against it is a strong approach to ensure that the police are taking the matter into serious cognizance.

Use the link to help understand the scope of RTI and how to file one.

Thus, the procedure for filing a missing person’s complaint can be summed up in the following steps-

  1. If there is reasonable doubt regarding the safety of a certain individual whose whereabouts are unknown, you can make a call or go to the nearest police station to file the complaint.
  2. Give the necessary details of such missing person along with a recent photograph to facilitate the investigation. Fill the missing person form if the departmental procedure so asks for.
  3. As a secondary remedy, you can further as for relevant developments in the case by filing applications. You can also formally file an RTI in this regard.

General pattern of investigation followed in cases of missing person report

  • In the absence of any standard procedure established to lodge FIR in cases of missing persons, the fact of a missing person is considered to be non-cognizable offense. Therefore, only an entry is made in the General Station Diary (GD) and is followed by an inquiry.
  • At the field level, local police officials publicize the person to gather information, while the SHO forwards the information to the Superintendent of Police, or Deputy Commissioner of Police, and all other concerned persons.
  • Registration of information is done in the Missing Persons Bureau, then in the State Crime Records Bureau, and finally transferred to the Missing Persons Wing at the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) in New Delhi, which operates under the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The NCRB, under the TALASH Information System, maintains a national level database of missing persons under different categories. The NCRB functions as a ‘Documentation Centre’ or at best a ‘Transfer Desk’ because the NCRB neither investigates nor does it monitor or facilitates the recovery of missing children as a proactive organization.

Law Enforcement Takes the Next Steps

For all missing persons, officers log the personal information into the National Crime Information Center Missing Person File, a searchable database. If law enforcement personnel come into contact with the person for any reason, such as a traffic stop or an arrest, an NCIC search will show the missing person status. The NCIC records feature both adults and children and are retained until a person is found or the record is canceled by the filing agency.

After this step, the nature of the disappearance dictates the next moves of law enforcement. For missing persons who are not believed to be in danger, a press release sent to local media is a common next step in the investigation. A dispatcher also frequently broadcasts a message regarding the missing person to all local officers. A larger probe with a crime scene investigation may be launched if, for example, the person disappeared from a local store while his car was running in the parking lot. In cases where a ground search is appropriate, such as a small child who disappeared in a wooded area or a dementia patient left a nursing facility, agencies deploy extra officers to patrol and search the area.

People Missing Abroad

What should you do if you lose contact with someone while they are abroad?

If a person you know goes missing overseas you should contact:

  • Your nearest police force. They will make contact with the police in the relevant country (via Interpol).
  • The ‘Consular Protection’ department located at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office [Tel: 020 7008 1500].

Note: You can also contact the charity ‘The Lucie Blackman Trust’.

When the Police Find a Missing Person

There is a specific procedure for knowing when someone is found after a disappearance. It would depend whether they were an adult or a child.

If the police find a person who is under the age of 18:

In most cases, they would inform the parents (or the guardians) of their whereabouts. An exception may apply if doing so would endanger the safety of the youngster.

The police would not usually pass on the whereabouts of a person they find if they are over 18 (unless they have their permission to do so).


Patrick Gallaty was last seen at Campbelltown Hospital at 2pm on 24 August 2001. When last seen Patrick had short dark curly hair and a full ginger coloured beard. He was wearing…