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Working With the Police

While the police may be a critical resource in the search for your missing child, it is important to know that their level of involvement may vary depending on a number of factors. In some cases, where the level of risk of harm to the child is deemed to be high, police may play a very active and lead role in the search. However, in other cases, the role of the police may be more limited, varying from police agency to police agency depending on their policies and the resources available. Once you have made a report to the police, you will need to find out what action law enforcement is preparing to take in the search for your child. This information will help you better understand what is being done by the police, and what steps you can or should take on your own. It is important that you do your best to work cooperatively with the police.

What to Expect From Law Enforcement

In Canada, you do not have to wait to report your child missing. However, if your child is over the age of majority in your province (18 or 19 years of age depending on the province), some jurisdictions will require you to wait 24 to 48 hours before taking your report.

  • Law enforcement will take your report.

  • When you first contact the police, make sure you get the following information:

  • An incident number;

  • The name of the officer taking the report; and

  • A phone number for any follow-up calls.

It is important to explain to the police why you are so concerned, and what makes this situation different from the many other missing person’s reports they receive. If your child is older, keep in mind that there is the perception that young adults are more spontaneous and impulsive, causing them to fall out of touch with family and friends for a period of time. By ruling out the numerous possible explanations for your child’s disappearance, you will have a more sound argument for why police involvement and action is necessary. You need to explain to the police officers all the reasons why your child’s disappearance is out of character for your child. Police response will vary drastically depending on their resources, internal policy, and current workload.


  • Once law enforcement is contacted, consider filling out the Initial Intake form if you wish to request services from

  • can help you liaise with police services, can advocate for you to the police if needed and may be able to provide you with other ideas and strategies in the search for your child.

  • It is absolutely critical that you are honest with police. They are an important partner in the search for your child and they need to be aware of any circumstances surrounding your child’s disappearance, regardless of how it may reflect on you, your child, or your family.

  • When police are actively investigating, consult with them about any individual search efforts you plan to make. They may have information that you are unaware of.

  • Build a relationship as quickly as possible with the lead investigator on your child’s case and/or work with a non-profit agency like that can help you bridge this connection.

  • If you are concerned that your child’s case is not being investigated properly, please consult with your caseworker about the best way to deal with this issue.

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