Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

What happens when someone is reported missing in Scotland?

Missing people search team police
Police carrying out a missing person search.

Almost every day in Scotland, public appeals are issued to trace people who disappear – but what actually happens when you report someone missing?

Data compiled by the Missing People charity shows about 170,000 people are reported missing every year in the UK.

Of those who go missing, the majority – more than 95,000 – are adults, while around  70,000 are children.

The charity estimates about 75% of missing adults and 80% of children will be found within a day – that rises to 85% and 90% after two days.

About 2% of children and 5% of adults will be missing for longer than a week.

What does being a missing person mean and when should you contact police?

Someone will be classed as missing for as long as their whereabouts and wellbeing are unknown.

Police Scotland say you should contact officers as soon as you become concerned or establish that someone could be missing.

Police can start investigating a missing person case as soon as they receive a report.

You do not have to wait 24 hours before contacting the authorities – this is a common misconception.

You can report someone as missing by calling 999 in an emergency, or through 101.

What happens if I report someone missing in Scotland?

Once police officers are told of a missing person they will launch an investigation to find them.

Police Scotland advice says: “As part of this, an officer is deployed to obtain further details of the incident.

“With the help of the person reporting the incident the officer will obtain as much information as possible about the circumstances including a photograph, of the missing person, if available.”

The investigation

After the initial report, an assessment is made about the vulnerability of the missing person and the risk they pose or could be exposed to.

Police say they take into account a number of factors in assessing this, such as the persons age, health and whether they have financial or personal problems.

“Immediate enquiries will be undertaken by the investigating officer to try to find the missing person as soon as possible,” the force says.

Most people are found within a day of going missing.

“Depending on the circumstances, the investigation may involve other specialist officers including the CID.”

As part of their inquiries, police will often share appeals to the public for help to trace the person.

These are usually shared with the media and on social media channels like Facebook.

How can I help?

What you can do and how police respond will depend on who has gone missing and where.

For example, the investigation to find someone who has gone missing abroad will be different to the search for someone missing in Scotland.

Police Scotland says you can help in the following ways:

  • Photographs: It is helpful to provide one or more good photographs of the missing person which police can take away and use as part of the search.
  • Search: Officers will likely need to search the home or place where the missing person was last seen. While you can do this yourself, police will also need to look as part of their investigation.
  • Health: You will likely be asked about the person’s health, so it can be helpful for you to find out their doctor’s details and any information you have about their medical history.
  • Family: You might be able to help the investigation by contacting the family and friends of the missing person to see if they have seen the person or heard from them.
  • Social media: You may be able to see the social media accounts of the missing person and be able to check for any activity that could reveal where they are.

How to get help

As well as the police, you can also get help and support from the Missing People charity.

Alongside the information and support materials on their website, the charity also runs a helpline.

10 unsolved missing person cases in Tayside and Fife — can you help to find them?

Already a subscriber? Sign in

[[title]]

[[text]]