Report a Missing Person in Ireland

Download the Missing Persons Checklist

What to do when someone goes missing.

All too often, we are seeing news about missing persons. Sadly, we are not seeing enough headlines soon enough about missing persons. When someone goes missing and that realization kicks in, those immediate moments are critical.

Like a lot of things in life, until you have experienced the shock and trauma that can comes with this unimaginable experience, it is impossible to predict what you would do. As the saying goes, hindsight is a very exact science.  Now living with that hindsight,  and knowing what we know now, we would like to share some thoughts that might in the future help others.

In the event of someone going missing: Contact the Gardai immediately – they should request the following information:

How do you report a missing person? 

To report a missing person in the case of emergency, contact any Garda Station and provide as much relevant information as possible including:

  • Name
  • Age / Date of Birth
  • Gender
  • Height
  • Build
  • Hair colour
  • Date the person was last seen
  • Where person was last seen
  • What person was wearing when last seen
  • Any other relevant personal details or information
  • A recently taken photograph if available
  • What kind of form they were in etc…

Note that the gardai should ask all these questions so it's important to provide as much information as possible.

Don’t wash or clear anything that belongs to them.

1. Next step and the most important at this stage.

This is critical, so take this on board – Don’t for a second believe that by reporting the person missing to the Gardai that all Garda resources will be redeployed to search for your missing person as reported. The Gardai have thousands of other live investigations, reports to follow up on, and limited resources.


You cannot do everything on your own, so bring in resources. Contact family and friends, explain the situation and ask them please to assist.

Essentially, what you are doing is setting up your own operation to find your loved one. This action is critical!

While you wait for these persons to arrive, contact all the missing persons friends, work colleagues, your neighbours, their neighbours and mobilise as many people as possible. As time passes, and more resources come on board, you need to have one or two person’s assigned to take control. While not always easy, think of whom you feel would be best for this, ask them to take on the roles and give them the materials that will guide their task. We will note them later on.

If you are able to appoint two persons, ask one of them to look after search co-ordination and the other to look after contacting as many professional resources as possible.

2. Co-Ordinating the Search

If you have been able to appoint two persons to the task, they should be split as Person One co-ordinating the search and Person Two contacting all resources available to them.

So what can Person One – The Search Co-ordinator do?

  • Find out where the most recent sighting was – What direction did they went in, were they travelling by foot, what were they wearing.
  • Make sure that there is a recent photo available for all volunteers so they are aware of who they are looking for.
  • If there are any nick names the person goes by, please advise all.
  • Get a map and mark exactly where groups are going searching.
  • Make sure that if you are searching in the dark, that volunteers have torches and high vis vests.

What does Person Two do?

  • There are resources available to help in the search for missing persons, these vary from Mountain Rescue and Search Dogs Ireland to the Civil Defence. The very first thing to do is get a complete list of resources that are available and contact each of them. Note, even after contacting, it is the Superintendent in charge of the search that will approve their use.
  • In addition to this, the gardai have resources available that include:
    • Garda Helicopter
    • Mounted Unit
  • Contact all Hospitals etc.
  • Contact all businesses
  • Contact all


Dublin Civil Defence maintains a large number of qualified searchers as a resource available to assist an Garda Siochana in searching for missing persons.

Their training includes:

  • Search Managers
  • Open ground searching
  • Rivers and streams searching
  • Medical assistance
  • Evidence protection
  • Working with Helicopters

To contact Civil Defence phone:

Civil Defence Headquarters (Mon – Fri 0900-1700) 016772699

CDO James McConnell 0872346000

ACDO Aiden Hanna 0879288372

ACDO Fergus Byrne 0861011235


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