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What you need to know about "Is it a crime to go missing?"

Is it a crime to go missing?

Going missing means that you have left home or run away without telling people where you have gone, so nobody knows where you are or if you are ok.

Going missing and running away in the UK is not a crime and you won’t be in trouble with the police. Everyone just wants you to be safe, have somewhere safe to live and to have someone to talk to.

The police may well be asked to look for you by a family member or someone else who cares for you like a carer or teacher, if you run away from home or somewhere else.

Is it a crime to go missing?

Sometimes the police may regard you as absent rather than missing i.e. ‘a person is not at a place where they are expected or required to be’. They might think that you aren’t at risk because you are at a friend’s house or because it hasn’t been very long since you were last home.

If you do stay away or they were worried about your safety from the start, they may well start to think of you as a missing person and have to look for you. They will be thinking about the risks there are for you when running away and whether you are safe and well.

The police need to see you to be able to say that you are ok and stop looking for you. They may contact friends and family, your school, college or work and maybe check places that you usually go.

You might get calls, texts or emails from them trying to get in contact with you to make sure you are ok. You might even get a message from Runaway Helpline if the police ask us to let you know about us.

Sometimes the police and your carers may decide that putting your photo and basic information on social media, posters and websites, will help find you and let you know that people are worried about you.

Having all of this happen to you may make you feel angry, frustrated and worried. It is your choice what you want to do, you shouldn’t feel pressured to stay away or come back. It is important that you are safe, have somewhere warm to sleep and that you aren’t being made to do things that you don’t want to do or being hurt.

If you are over 18 then the police will not tell anyone where you are if you don’t want them to. If you are under 18, then the police will make sure that you are not in danger but depending on your age and situation, you may need to be returned back to your parent or carer.

If you are unable to go home, social services will be able to talk about your situation and figure out where the best place for you to be is to keep you safe.

You can contact us at Runaway Helpline. We know from speaking to lots of people who have been missing, that it can be a very hard time. We want to listen, and to help you to make safe decisions.  We won’t know who you are or where you are unless you tell us.  You’re in charge.

Are you thinking of running away because you have been affected by going missing?
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The Runaway Helpline can only provide services to children and young people within the United Kingdom, and information and advice on this site relates to the UK only.

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