What happens when someone goes missing as Michael Mosley disappears during walk

Dr Michael Mosley
-Credit: (Image: 2019 Getty Images)

Dr Michael Mosley has been reported missing. The health expert, renowned for his promotion of the 5:2 diet and 'The Fast 800', disappeared during a walk while on holiday on the Greek island of Symi.

The 67-year-old is well known for appearing on BBC and ITV shows like This Morning and The One Show. Greek Police have said Dr Mosley went for a walk to the centre of the island on Wednesday.

He set off hiking along St Nicholas beach at 1.30pm. His wife, Dr Clare Bailey, alerted authorities after he failed to return by 7.30pm.

His cellphone was found at the location where he was staying with his wife. The local officers on the island couldn't locate Dr Mosley after they were alerted.

They sought assistance from the Athens fire department in Greece. Firefighters from Rhodes promptly arrived in Symi at 2pm.

The fire department has reported that the path Dr Mosley is thought to have taken back is hazardous in certain sections. Search teams consisting of firefighters and volunteers are scouring the area on foot, with drones being utilized to explore inaccessible areas.

What to do when someone goes missing

You don't need to wait a whole day to report someone missing. If you believe someone is in danger, you can report them missing immediately. If you're concerned about someone's safety, don't hesitate to reach out to the police.

How to report someone as missing

If the missing person is in immediate danger, is a young child or vulnerable to harm, call 999 now. According to Metropolitan Police, If you don’t think they are in immediate danger you can:

Your report will then be dealt with by the police in the same way whether you report it online or call 101. If you report online, you'll receive an email to confirm the report has been received and the email should also provide you with information on what will occur next.

What happens after you report a missing person

Exactly what we will do depends on the level of risk and on the local police force. But, for example, at the start of an investigation officers might:

  • search the missing person’s home (even if you already have)

  • search the area they were last seen

  • check local hospitals

  • check the missing person’s mobile phones or computers

  • knock on local doors to see if anyone has any information

  • look at CCTV footage

  • carry out specialist searches (for example using helicopters, dogs or divers) if needed

If the police do not think the case is a missing person investigation, officers will:

  • tell you why not

  • help you find the right people to contact instead of the police

If an investigation crosses boundaries between police forces (for example if someone goes missing in one area but is potentially seen in another) police forces will work together. The force for the place the person is missing from usually has overall responsibility, but this can change if most of the investigation is happening in a different area.

After you’ve reported a missing person, the police may decide if the case is high risk, medium risk or low risk. Metropolitan Police states: "We take into account lots of factors including age and health when deciding risk. The risk level will help us decide what to do next. You can ask about and should be told the risk level.

"The risk level is not fixed and can be reassessed during the investigation when there is new information or circumstances change."

What you can do

If you don't think someone is in immediate danger, before you report someone missing you should:

  • ring round friends and family

  • check your phone and email for messages

  • search the home or wherever they were last seen

  • check the loft, garden, shed or garage

  • remember that children can fit into small spaces

  • look for any notes or other clues

  • ring round local hospitals

If you can, make a note of everything you do. Leave the missing person's room and things alone in case the police need to take a DNA sample.

It is not illegal to go missing

A missing person will not be in trouble or be arrested for going missing. Our first concern is for the missing person's wellbeing. It is not wasting police time to report someone missing. You won't be in trouble for reporting someone missing.

Help and support

The charity Missing People can support you and help you cope when someone has gone missing. LBT Global (formerly The Lucie Blackman Trust) helps people when someone has gone missing abroad.

What happens when someone has been missing for more than a few days

Most missing people are found or return in the first few days. If someone is missing for longer than a few days, some things about the police investigation might change.

Sometimes the police will allocate a Family Liaison Officer (FLO) to a missing person case. An FLO will:

  • be a consistent point of contact

  • give you support and information about the investigation

  • help make sure we have all the information we need from you

Not every case gets a Family Liaison Officer. If you do not get an FLO, talk to the police to find out how and how often you can expect to hear from them to discuss the investigation.

If the police haven't already, they might collect fingerprints or items they can get a DNA sample from like a toothbrush or hairbrush. This can help if an unidentified person that might be the person you are looking for is found.

To help preserve the missing person's DNA, you should leave their room and things alone. Do not wash or clean anything or touch their hairbrush or toothbrush until we have searched and collected evidence.

If the police cannot get a DNA sample for the missing person, officers might ask to collect a DNA sample from you and other family members.

DNA information from missing person cases is held on a database managed by the UK Missing Persons Unit. It will only be used to help identify the missing person and is not used for anything else. Once the missing person is found, the information will be deleted.

The police might also ask for details of the missing person’s dentist or doctor for dental and other medical records. You may be asked permission if you are their next of kin.

The UK Missing Persons Unit

After three days (72 hours) the police working on a missing persons case have to tell the UK Missing Persons Unit. The UK Missing Persons Unit is part of the National Crime Agency (NCA).

The UK Missing Persons Unit:

  • carries out enquiries on behalf of local forces

  • gives local forces specialist advice and support

  • keeps a database of missing people and found people in the UK, which helps match people up when someone is found outside the boundaries of the local police force where they went missing

  • manages the forensic databases of DNA profiles and fingerprints for missing people investigations

Local police can get help from the UK Missing Persons Unit sooner than three days if they want to, for example if they suspect a serious crime. Local police can also get expert help from National Crime Agency’s Major Crime Investigative Support (MCIS).