First on Scene

This information is designed for Police Officers who are first on scene at a missing person report, and who have the opportunity to actively search for that missing person before specialist resources arrive.

The information is based on statistics collected by Grampian Police, Mountain Rescue and International SAR teams.

This is NOT an alternative to your force’s established guidelines for reporting missing persons.

aide-memoireWMSAR has produced a single page PDF aide-memoire for officers

Missing Person Immediate Search Tactics

WMSAR recommends that officers who carry their own smartphones download and install Viewranger app and, at a small cost, the OS maps for your area. OS maps show far more detail than a street map or google and will allow you to see if there are any areas of water, buildings or pathways near your location.

Tips for searching

Your brain cannot process information when your eyes are moving. Scanning left to right is not effective. Instead, stand still and take snapshots of your surroundings with your eyes. Imagine you’re inside a Rubiks Cube – look in every square of the cube and then move on up the path.

Where there is a missing child, dementia sufferer or autistic person missing, check any nearby water sources first (ponds, lakes, rivers). These people do not sense danger from water.

Most people are found in homes & buildings or on roads or paths. Check the roads and paths leading from where they were last seen first, and any buildings they could have accessed on those pathways.

Most people don’t go very far. The Aide Memoire gives some advice on how far to go down each road before turning back.

Free Resource Documents

2007 Missing Persons Study – Grampian Police

Centre for Search Research Study

Paid Resource Documents

Lost Person Behavior – Robert Koester