How to report a Missing Person

Do you need to report someone as a missing person, either in Australia or overseas?

If you have concerns for someone’s safety and welfare, and their whereabouts is unknown, you can file a missing person’s report at your local police station.

The first 24 hours following a person’s disappearance are the most crucial. This is because the sooner police are able to follow-up leads, such as the availability of CCTV footage, the more likely the person will be found safe and well.
It is important to give the police all the facts and circumstances related to the disappearance, including search efforts already made by you and others. Relevant information may include intimate or private details regarding the missing person or their lifestyle.

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What information do I need to take?

When filing a missing person’s report, be prepared (where possible) with the following information about the person who is missing:

  • Name, age, home address, and employment information.
  • A recent, clear and coloured photograph of the person missing.
  • Their physical appearance, including any identifying features (tattoos, scars etc.).
  • What they were wearing when last seen.
  • Their last known whereabouts, or intended arrangements (travelling by bus to the local shopping centre, going to the gym etc.).
  • Habits and places they may frequent.
  • Their social media accounts/use (think Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat).
  • Telephone and banking information (Phone number, bank account details).
  • Any behavioural changes, personal, medical or emotional problems they may have experienced before they went missing.
  • Medication the person may use and what it is used to treat. (Do they have a medical condition police should be aware of?)
  • If the person has been reported missing before, the circumstances and where they were found.
  • Lists of friends, acquaintances, and anyone else who might have information or clues about the person’s whereabouts. (Try to include telephone numbers and home or work addresses.)

 

Reporting an Australian missing overseas

If you have concerns for the safety and welfare of a family member or friend missing overseas, and you have been unable to make contact with them (or any known travelling companions), you can report them missing at your local police station.

You will need all the information included in ‘What information do I need to take?’ to file a missing person’s report.

Once a missing person’s report has been made the report will be forwarded by your local police to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), who will coordinate the investigation into the missing person.

DFAT has a Consular Section responsible for the protection and welfare of Australians travelling or living abroad.

DFAT will pursue individual matters based on a serious concern for the welfare of an Australian overseas and a belief the person concerned needs consular assistance.

Consular staff will contact you and explain the missing person processes and will also confirm family consent for DFAT to provide information to external agencies, including INTERPOL, and foreign law enforcement agencies (where applicable).

Your local police will also undertake checks with financial institutions (banks), mobile phone providers, and airlines and travel operators.

For further information of DFATs roll with Australians missing overseas, you can view their guide on the Smart Traveller website.

Foreign National missing in Australia

If you are overseas and want to report someone as missing in Australia, you need to attend your local police station and make a missing persons report.

Your local police will complete a missing person report and disseminate the report through INTERPOL channels to the relevant Australian police jurisdiction for further investigation.

The Australian local police station who takes carriage of the case will liaise with the Next of Kin (NOK) of the missing person, either by email or telephone in relation to ongoing investigation.

Alternatively, if you know of any friends or family of your loved one who are in Australia, they may attend their local police station on your behalf to lodge a missing persons report as described above.
When making the report to local police, be prepared with the information listed in 'What information do I need to take?' section above.

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