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Most missing people are found or return in the first few days. If someone doesn't come back quickly, at some point you might want to publicise the case.
This is sometimes but not always a good idea, so please follow our advice on posters and publicity.
You can put up posters in the local area or where you think the person might have gone missing.
Do not put your own phone number on posters or social media as you may get fraudulent calls. Ask the police for a number to use, or work with Missing People and use their 116 000 number.
Once a missing person's information is made public (for example on social media), it can be impossible to get rid of all mentions of it online after they get back.
This can cause problems for people later in life, especially for children as they become adults.
Be careful what you share, especially anything that tells people that the missing person is vulnerable in some way. This could help people who want to exploit them.
In most cases all you need to share is a person's first name and photo.
You could approach the local newspaper, radio or TV station to see if they will publish or broadcast a story about your case.
They might not tell the story in the way you would like, or might not publish the story at all. They might approach other people for information about the missing person.
If you are unhappy with something that’s been published or journalists' behaviour, talk to them and ask them to make a correction or change.
For example if journalists are contacting friends and family who don’t want to be contacted, you can first ask them to stop.
If you are not satisfied with their response you can complain to the Independent Office for Press Standards (IPSO) or for TV and radio the Office of Communications (OFCOM).
If someone is missing for a long time, here are some ideas for keeping up interest in your case:
Make sure you coordinate any publicity with us so we know what you are doing.
We have professional media staff who can help coordinate publicity and give you practical advice.
We can also publicise your case ourselves, on the police website or social media. We will be sensitive and only include information that you are happy to share.
Sometimes we might suggest working with us to make a television media appeal. If you decide to take part we will discuss what will happen with you.
Occasionally we might advise against doing any publicity.