Missing People- FAQ

Who is the charity Missing People?

Missing People is the only charity in the UK which specialises in, and is dedicated to, bringing missing children and adults back together with their families. For more information visit the charity’s website at the following address: www.missingpeople.org.uk


What are missing people appeals?

The charity Missing People works with the police forces to help them locate missing people. The charity issues a public appeal when someone is reported to the police as having gone missing.


What kinds of missing people alerts does Royal Mail issue?

We issue ‘High Risk Missing People Alerts’ for adults and children who have been reported to the police as missing.

High Risk Missing People Alerts

We issue an alert when an adult or child goes missing who is vulnerable and in danger. For example, they may have been the victim of a serious crime. We also issue an alert when someone goes missing who is believed to pose a risk to the public. These are known as ‘High Risk Missing People Alerts’.

There are likely to be around 50 of these alerts a year. Usually the alert will not be nationwide. So, not everyone using a hand-held scanner will receive each one.

Child Rescue Alerts

We issue an alert when a child is abducted or disappears with immediate risk to life. Every minute after abduction is crucial to bring a child home safely, so immediate action is vital. These are known as ’Child Rescue Alerts’.

There are likely to be around four or five of them a year. They are most likely to be national alerts, so everyone who has a hand-held scanner will receive them.


What about other people who are missing but aren’t classed as ‘high risk’?

Unfortunately, hundreds of thousands of people go missing in the UK each year. The charity Missing People issues missing people appeals for all of those who have been reported by the police as missing. Appeals are publicised on its website and through social media and other media partners. We are supporting the charity in publicising appeals for only those people who are classified as high risk. People may be classified as higher risk than others because of factors such as their age, health or the disappearance being very out of character. We will not send alerts for those deemed lower risk. However, if you wish to see details about all missing people, please visit the Missing People website at the following address: www.missingpeople.org.uk/help-us-find.html. If you see someone in your community that matches a description, please get in touch with the charity.


What do the Missing People alerts look like?

Example messages:

What happens if I see a missing person or child?

If you see a missing person or child you should call the number given in the hand-held scanner message as soon as possible. If you make the observation during your rounds, please stop to make the call and report the missing person. The call should only take you a few minutes. Once made, continue with your work unless you have spoken to the police and have been instructed to do otherwise. It is important that you continue on with your work as soon as possible. Our obligations to our customers are of paramount importance. 

Please click here to find out what questions you are likely to be asked when you respond to an alert.


What should I do if I see a missing person who appears to be a risk to others?  

If you are concerned about the safety of yourself or anybody else please immediately call the police on 999, referencing the appropriate Missing People alert.  Please do not approach the person.


What can I do if I don’t have a hand-held scanner device?

Missing People alerts are also published on our dedicated Missing People webpage and on our TV screens. This means that everyone working for Royal Mail can help find missing people and reunite families. 


What questions might I be asked if I respond to an alert?

If you respond to an alert you are likely to be asked the following questions:

  • Name of the missing person
  • Time and date you saw the person
  • Location where you saw the person
  • What they looked like and what they were wearing
  • What the circumstances were
  • Your name and contact details.

Please note the following:

i. If you are responding to a High Risk Missing Person Alert you will be asked to contact the charity about your sighting. The charity will not pass your details onto the police unless you indicate that you are happy for them to do so. If you do provide your details, the police may wish to speak to you to check for further information which may help find the person.

ii. If you are responding to a Child Rescue Alert, the phone number provided in the message will put you directly in touch with the police.


Where can I find out more information about the Missing People charity?

Visit the website at www.missingpeople.org.uk or call the helpline on 116 000.