How is a person classified as missing?

The police define a missing person as ‘anyone whose whereabouts cannot be established will be considered as missing until located, and their well-being or otherwise confirmed.’

What should I do if my loved one goes missing?

It is advisable to check any known locations where they might be and contact anyone who might know where they are.  If you are unable to locate them and are still concerned about where they might be, call the police so that they can decide upon the most appropriate action to take to locate them.

The police will assess the level of risk by considering the missing person’s age, the circumstances of their disappearance, whether this is out of character, and whether they need medical treatment. You will be asked to provide some details to assist in their assessment and search, which is why it is beneficial to have completed the form provided as part of the scent kit.  They will then use the most appropriate resources to find the person, which may include a search dog.  Click here for more information about what might happen when somebody is reported missing.

Missing People operates a free and confidential helpline which is open around the clock to offer support and advice to anyone affected by a disappearance. Call or text 116 000, or email 116000@missingpeople.org.uk.

When should someone be reported as missing?

A disappearance should be reported immediately if the person is felt to be at risk or unsafe.  If you cannot locate someone, and their not arriving at their place of work/study or not returning home is out of character, and you think that they are missing, the police should be your first point of contact. You can contact them on 101 or visit your local police station.  If the missing person is a child, or you think that they are at serious risk of harm, call 999.

A missing person can be reported to the police at any time, you do NOT need to wait 24 hours before making a report.

Visit the Missing People website for more information about reporting someone missing.

Services from Lowland Rescue and Missing People can only be used for cases where the person has been officially reported as missing to the police.

How many people go missing in the UK?

Someone is reported missing every 90 seconds in the UK. This equates to over 340,000 reports to the police every year, with the true figure likely to be higher as some people are not reported to the police at all.

Visit the Missing People website for more information about statistics in the UK.

How can I prepare for a situation whereby someone goes missing?

If there is a risk of someone becoming a missing person, it is best to be prepared for that eventuality.  To enable this, it is helpful to have completed the personal information form and prepared the scent kit ready for use.  This will help the police to respond quickly by having ready much of the information they will need.

Where are Lowland Rescue dogs located and how are they deployed?

This is an ongoing project and, while coverage is limited at this time, dogs will be based throughout the UK to be able to respond to incidents.  The responsibility for calling a dog rests with the police when a person has been reported missing. It will then be a matter for the expert judgment of the dog handler to determine how to respond.


Why do I need a scent kit?

We have consulted with scientists who are experts in this field and taken their advice as to what are the best processes for capturing a person’s scent and keeping it. This is to make sure that it can be used effectively in the event of the person going missing.  It is important that the dog is given a scent article that is as free from contamination as possible to give the dog the best chance of finding the person.

How does the scent kit work?

By following the instruction enclosed within the box a person’s scent can be stored in a sterile glass jar until it is needed. In the event of a person going missing, the stored scent article will be given to the dog, which will then search for the missing person from the place where they were last seen.  If that scent is present, they will follow it to locate where the person has gone.

Is the scent kit suitable for adults and children?

Yes, it works for all ages.


Can someone come out and talk about Search Dog Heroes with us?

Yes, as part of the project we are giving such talks to groups, centres, care homes etc. Please contact us and we will get back to you to discuss your needs in more detail.

I have a dog, how do I get involved with the project?

To become a Search Dog Hero handler, you will first need to be a volunteer with your local Lowland Rescue team. Visit the Lowland Rescue website to contact your local team. 

I would like to volunteer. How can I get involved with Lowland Rescue?

There are a variety of options that are available which include various support functions as well as being a search team member.  Visit the Lowland Rescue website to find your local team and contact them for more information.

I would like to volunteer. How can I get involved with Missing People?

Missing People relies heavily on volunteers to help provide help and support for missing persons and their families.  There are a number of ways to get involved, from attending events to covering the 24/7 helpline. Visit the Missing People website for more information. 

How is the Search Dog Heroes project funded?

Missing People and Lowland Rescue were fortunate to receive £1million from People’s Postcode Lottery Dream Fund. It’s thanks to players that these funds are raised and awarded to charities and good causes across the UK.

Can I make a donation to the charity?

Please visit either the Missing People website or the Lowland Rescue website to make a donation directly to either charity. The Search Dog Heroes funding covers the first two years of the project, but further funds will be needed to continue the ongoing legacy of the project, so any donations will be gratefully received.