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You don’t have to wait 24 hours to report someone as missing.
If a person is under 12, elderly or has significant mental or developmental disabilities, call 911 immediately – skip the steps below.
You can report someone as missing even if they aren’t related to you, or if they live in a different area than you.
Missing person’s cases are only closed once the person is found.
The impact of missing persons can be life changing for families, friends and communities.
You should immediately report someone who is missing to the police:
- there’s no limit to the number of reports that can be made for the same person – report each time that person goes missing
- you can file a missing person report no matter how long the person has been missing
How to report a missing person
Step 1. Before you report
- check with friends, acquaintances and family members
- check area hospitals
- check with the person’s school or employer
- check places where the person goes often
- check social media sites for any mention of the person
Step 2. Report a missing person
Contact your local police service immediately.
Step 3. Describe the missing person
When you call to report a missing person, you’ll be asked questions to help clearly identify the person. Here are some questions you may be asked:
- What does the person look like?
- What is the person’s age?
- Do they have any identifying features?
- Is the person on medication?
- Are there any immediate health concerns?
- Is the person suicidal?
- Is this behaviour out of character for the person?
- Is the person involved with gangs, drugs or the sex-trade? (answering this question will not get your loved one in trouble)
- What circumstances may have caused them to go missing? (such as: job loss, troubles at home)
- When did you last see them?
- Where have you looked?
- Who else have you contacted?
- Who saw them last?
Step 4. After you report
Keep detailed notes of your conversations with the police. These notes will help you keep track of what was discussed as the investigation progresses.
The primary investigator assigned to your case will be your main contact with the police. They can advise you on actions you can take while the investigation is underway.
Victim services units
Victim services units can help you:
- communicate with police
- decide on actions you can take
- cope with the impact of a missing person on your family or community
Support for family and friends
Resources are available to help you cope with a missing person in your family or community.
- Canada’s Missing
- Provides a database of national missing persons and unidentified remains cases.
- Canadian Centre for Child Protection
Aims to reduce the sexual abuse and exploitation of children, to assist in the location of missing children and to prevent child victimization.
- Canadian Centre for Information on Missing Adults
Offers tips and resources for helping families when a loved one goes missing.
- Missing Children Society of Canada
Aims to reunite missing children with their searching families through professional investigations, public awareness and family support programs.
- Missing Kids
Assists in the location of missing children and young adults, provides educational materials to prevent children from going missing, and provides missing kids “response” information.
- Native Women’s Association Canada (NWAC): Navigating the Missing Persons Process: A Community Education Toolkit (PDF, 235 KB)
Explains the missing person’s process from an Aboriginal policing perspective, as well as offering a resource guide for families who need to contact their local policing authorities about a missed loved one.
- Ka Ni Kanichihk
A non-profit organization that offers tools for families of missing persons. It is geared toward Aboriginal families in Manitoba, but useful for any family with a missing loved one.
- Federal Income Support for Parents of Murdered or Missing Children grant
The Federal Income Support for Parents of Murdered or Missing Children grant is available to people who have suffered a loss of income while coping with the death or disappearance of their child, as a result of a probable crime.
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