How to find people in the UK

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Finding a missing person in the UK can present as an overwhelming task and it can be very hard to know where to start. With a population estimated at over 66 million and the UK being the 23rd most populated country in the world it’s easy to see why! 

In addition to this the UK consists of 69 cities and approximately 43,500 towns and villages. A needle in a haystack just does not even start to describe trying to find one person in the UK; this is more like finding one small pin in several fields of haystacks!

However, despite the extremely challenging and seemingly impossible nature of the task, missing people or people evading detection get found every day.

The way to go about finding a missing person and the methods to use, as well as the results you can expect to achieve and the timescales you can achieve this within vary according to the reasons you need to find someone, the consequences of not finding them, the amount of money and/or time you are willing to invest in finding the person and the action you intend to take upon finding that person.

It may be that you wish to find an estranged family member to check their wellbeing and safety, to resume contact with them or to pass on important family news. 

It might be that you have lost contact with an old school mate, friend or perhaps even ex-partner and wish to get back in touch or seek to resume a past relationship.

Perhaps a past tenant or bad debtor has left and gone off the radar whilst still owing you money and you need to track them down to recoup this loss.

Potentially your family was separated following historic child and family court proceedings and you were taken into care or adopted and you now, as an adult, want to trace and regain contact with family members.

Perhaps you are currently involved in child arrangement or residency proceedings and need to find out the address of the other party involved in this.

Perhaps you are an individual or legal firm already undertaking legal action against a debtor, fraudster or rogue trader and you need to find them to issue or serve court or legal papers. 

There are a wide range of possible reasons for needing to find a missing person in the UK and various actions you can undertake to achieve this. Below are some suggestions for how to find a person in the UK; the circumstances around the person going missing, how they are connected to you, the reasons you need to find them, and the timescales required to find them in will dictate which of these approaches are most appropriate to each specific scenario. Obviously the actions you take in regard to finding someone who has been missing or out of contact with you for an extended period of time will be very different to those you would take if someone is recently deemed missing and you are concerned for their safety.

If you have the person’s consent or legitimate authority (eg you are a parent of a child or teenager aged under 18 years or you are a carer of a vulnerable person) you can take preventative action In case of a person going missing and put a tracking app on their mobile phone with the data being accessible from your own mobile phone. This would allow you to easily look up the location of their mobile phone (which is often likely to be on their person) if they do not come home when expected or you have reason to be concerned for their whereabouts and wellbeing. 

If you are concerned about a person being missing and worried for their safety and wellbeing you need to report this to police. You do not have to wait 24 hours to do this as is commonly assumed and can make the police aware as soon as concern is raised. 

You can try to make contact with the missing person through telephone, text or social media. You can attend their current or last known address or any places that they habitually attend to see if they are there or if there are indicators of them having been there recently or having been missing for some time such as a build up of mail.

Social media can also be used to look into why the person may have gone missing and where they might be or who they might be with; look at sites such as Facebook, snapchat, Instagram and WhatsApp to try to find out when they were last online. You can read posts to see what state of mind they were in and if they had any plans to go away. You can see who their friends and associates are and if these people’s profiles offer any insight into where the person might be. Social media searches are also very helpful for finding people that you have lost contact with long term; if they have an account with any of the major social media sites and limited privacy settings you may be able to find the person you are looking for just by typing in a name and known fact about them such as the area they now live in or the school they went to. You may even be able to make contact with them directly through these means.

It can be helpful to contact other people who know the missing person in some capacity and share information with them; friends, family members, neighbours, colleagues or employers can all be helpful sources of information.

Online searches for people can reveal information provided from address and telephone directories, census information and records of births and deaths. These can be useful in trying to track someone down but information can be limited due to some people not consenting to their details being publicly accessible in this way or this information being out of date.

There are several charities set up to assist in searching for missing people or long lost loved ones or family members such as The Salvation Army and The British Red Cross. You can make contact online with these groups to request assistance. There are also charitable organisations who provide advice around looking for a missed person and which have forums and sites for sharing information about current missing cases. These can offer a community and an ability to widen your search as well as obtain tips and hints from the experience of others in a similar situation.

If a person has committed a crime against you or another person and this is the reason you wish to find them, or they have defaulted on a court ordered payment you need to report this to the police or court so that they can follow up on this and utilise their considerable person tracing powers to address the issue.

You can hire the services of a private investigator or professional tracing agent; these are experts in the field of finding people and have significant training, experience and knowledge of how to undertake an efficient and effective search as well as access to state-of-the-art technology and much wider and specialised data and records than is available in the public domain. If you need to find someone within a specific timescale or if the consequences of not finding the person are significant this is the best option to pursue to achieve the result you want.

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