What to do if you Recognize a Missing Person

If you recognize a missing person

If you believe you saw and/or recognize someone who is listed as a missing person, the most important action that you can take is to contact police.

Any details that you recall are important and may be useful.

Importance of information

Sometimes people believe that the information they have about a missing person is too small to be important.  Others may believe that the information they have is already known to police.  The only way to be sure that police have the information is to share it with them.

The police may be able to use what you think is a minor bit of information to help further their investigation.  Sometimes information that seems irrelevant makes sense when it is added to the facts of the case the police already have.

Ways to submit information or tips

  1. Contact the police agency handling the investigation.
  2. To submit the information anonymously, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS or 1-800-222-8477.
  3. Contact your local police service.

If you recognize yourself as a missing person

Adults who disappear voluntarily have not committed a criminal offence.  Going missing is not a crime.

If you are identified as a missing person in the news, or any public forum, it means that someone is looking for you.  You may decide to contact a family member or close friend to let her/him know that you are okay.

Another option that is open to you is to contact the police and explain that you have seen a missing person poster of yourself.   The police will arrange to meet with you so that they can verify your identity.

It is also important for you to let police know what your wishes are about sharing your contact information with family and friends.  Police will follow your wishes for privacy if you request it.

Only after police have confirmed your identity will the missing person file be closed.

Reasons to contact police if you are a missing person

Being the subject of an open missing person file can cause potential problems for you.  For example, it could prevent you from travelling outside of Canada, or cause problems in obtaining certain types of identification such as a passport.

More importantly, closing the file will help you to live your life as you choose.

This document has been developed by the CCIMA for general information purposes (12/2012).