CHECK LIST: What to do if a loved one goes missing ...


* First and foremost, do not panic. Be kind to yourself, nothing will be
gained by beating yourself up.

* When you have sufficient reason to believe your loved one is missing,
keep a record (name, time, phone number) of everyone to whom you speak ...
you may need to phone them later to call-off the search and thank them.

* Contact friends or family of the mp and ask if they have any knowledge of
the missing person's whereabouts. Ask them to phone around and widen the search, don't
take on everything yourself. Have someone stay by the phone. Try to keep the
house phone free for the missing person to contact you. Use your mobile phone or another
line to receive incoming reports.

* Report person missing to the Police/Gardai/.

* If the missing person is vulnerable i.e., under 18, over 65, suffering from physical or
mental illness, depressed, disappearance out of character - report the
disappearance to local police/Gardai immediately your suspicions are
aroused. REMEMBER ... it's never too soon.

* If the person is on life-saving medication and had not taken the medicine
with them, contact police/gardai, the local radio stations and newspapers
and ask for help. REMEMBER ... it's never too soon.

* Internet... place photo and appeal on websites.

They will need details like DOB, address, description of mp and police
contact details if reported to the police/gardai. They will advise you of
the options open to you and recommend what to do, and equally as important,
what NOT to do.

* Collect your thoughts ... make a note of clothes missing person was wearing when last
seen, any belongings they took (passport, credit cards, bank books,
suitcase, cash etc.).

* Check phone ... to whom did they last speak? Request itemised bill from
phone company.

* Bank account ... are they withdrawing money? Where?

* Bus check in rural areas especially ... did missing person board the bus?

* If they go missing in town or shopping centres ... check cameras.

* Collect recent photos of missing person (useful for any appeals police or others may
undertake). Check with relatives and friends for better
quality close-up poses (head and shoulders), if you don't have any yourself.
Any photo is better than none, but the more up-to-date, the better.

* Make it a routine to take at least one head and shoulders photograph of
your loved ones each year.

* Distribute posters

* Ask local newspapers, radio and television for help.

* Ask police/gardai to keep in touch and if they don't, phone them.

What NOT to do if a loved one goes missing

* Do not panic.

* Do not delay in searching. Time can be of the essence.

* Do not keep their disappearance a secret, the more you tell, the more
people you have looking on your behalf and speedier the results might be.

* Do not tidy up their bedroom until the police/gardai have seen it, mess or
not.

* Do not dust before fingerprints have been taken.

* Don't be put off ... you know your own ... follow your intuition.

* Do not wait - if missing person is vulnerable, notify the police as soon as
you think something is wrong.

* Do not put your own telephone numbers or address on posters or
advertisements, to avoid hoaxes - use the police/gardai numbers.

* Do not give up, keep appealing and searching. Remember, people want to
help. Try and keep the name and photo in the public eye.

© Frank Peters/Worldwide News

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