National Missing Persons Framework for Scotland

Document providing a focus for all agencies with an interest in missing people to work together.

Definition of a "missing person"

Through the development of this Framework, we have consulted on a national working definition of a missing person. The following definition has been developed with partners and is already proving to be of practical use in dealing with, and assessing, missing people:

A missing person is anyone whose whereabouts are unknown and:

  • Where the circumstances are out of character; or
  • The context suggests the person may be subject to crime; or
  • The person is at risk of harm to themselves or another

Notably, this definition has recently been used for three Police Scotland pilot projects for:

  • Adults who go missing from care settings.
  • Looked After children who go missing from residential and foster care.
  • Patients who go missing from NHS care.

Evidence from the projects that have been evaluated suggests that the definition has been effective in helping deal with missing persons and should be used to assess whether a person is missing from home, care or elsewhere.


Email: Stephen Coulter

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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