The Calgary Police Service (CPS) is committed to thoroughly and efficiently investigating all missing persons. Below you will find important information and resources about reporting missing persons in the City of Calgary.
Who to contact to report someone missing:
If someone you know is missing please call 403-266-1234 to make a report. If you believe that they are at imminent risk of harm, please call 911.
CPS receives an average of 3300 missing persons reports a year. Prior to reporting someone missing, CPS asks that you:
- Check with family members and friends/acquaintances of the person to make sure they have not made other plans.
- Check with local hospitals.
- Check with school/employer of the person.
- Check places that the person frequently goes to.
It is important to note that police will begin a missing persons investigation with a focus on where the person was last physically seen because this is the location from which the police may be best able to collect information or evidence from. Although CPS will accept missing persons reports that should be received in another jurisdiction, it is recommended that you report the missing person to the police agency where he/she was last seen. This avoids delay in gathering information, compiling a report and transmitting that information to another agency.
How long should you wait to report someone missing?
You do not have to wait a set time to file a missing persons report (i.e. 24 hours, 48 hours).
Those in an individual’s social circle, such as family, friends and coworkers, tend to be the first to notice when regular routines and patterns have changed. A key factor police use to determine if a person is missing or not is whether this is out of character or unusual for that individual.
The Calgary Police Service Missing Persons Program
CPS has had a Missing Persons coordinator/investigator since 1957. The coordinator/investigator is responsible for the maintenance, investigation and coordination of missing persons files. Our Missing Persons Team (1 Sergeant, 3 Constables) conducts daily reviews of all new reports, ongoing reviews of all active cases, and reviews of historical cases on a quarterly basis.
The Missing Persons Team:
- Reviews and monitors all outstanding missing person complaints.
- Investigates and/or coordinates long term or high risk missing person complaints.
- Provides assistance and guidance to members of the Service in relation to the investigation of missing persons.
What happens in a missing persons investigation?
Investigation begins with the completion of the Dispatch Assessment by the call-taker in Public Safety Communications (call centre). The urgency of resources deployed will depend on the assessed level of risk for each reported case. The standardized Dispatch Assessment tool is a risk assessment process developed by the Missing Persons Team. To determine a missing person’s risk of imminent harm, agencies ask key questions to determine whether an individual is at a higher risk due to: circumstantial or behavioral factors; physical and/or mental wellbeing; lifestyle choices; or, environmental conditions. For example, we take into account the missing person’s:
- Physical health, mental health, and competency
- Emotional state (e.g. suicidal)
- Lifestyle factors – e.g. prostitution/addictions/gang involvement
- Circumstances – out of character/suspicious/dangerous
- Prior involvement with police
- Environmental conditions (e.g. severe weather)
The Dispatch Assessment is then reviewed by a CPS officer and is attached to the Missing Person occurrence report so that it is available to investigating officers. The Dispatch Assessment ensures a structured approach to evaluating the basic facts of the case and provides an objective measure of the risk of harm to the missing person. It is through the subsequent investigation that we determine the number and variety of resources to be deployed and informs prioritization for investigative follow-up.
What is the solve rate for missing persons cases reported to CPS?
Since 1995, the CPS has received over 66,000 missing persons reports. As of May 2015, the CPS solve rate* is 99.8% or higher for each year from 1995 to 2013, with the solve rate for 2014 currently standing at 99.3% (this will improve in the coming months). Historically, the solve rate has always been high (>95%); however, in 2009, with the implementation of the Missing Persons Team, the Service conducted a significant case file review of all persons listed as missing in our Records Management System from 1995 to 2009. The review resolved ~98% of the outstanding missing person listings, allowing resources for investigative follow-up to be directed more efficiently. The case file review has also resulted in more robust procedures for case file management and follow-up for persons who are reported missing today.
*Solve rate is defined as the percentage of files where the persons role has been updated from missing to found. Solve rates provided are cumulative as of May 2015.
For more information on missing persons in Canada:
Please see the following websites for information on missing persons across Canada and resources for families and friends of missing persons:
Please see http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/pubs/mmaw-faapd-eng.htm for information on an RCMP-led national study on Canada’s missing and murdered Aboriginal women. According to this 2014 report, there are 19 unresolved missing Aboriginal females and 28 unsolved Aboriginal female homicides in the province of Alberta from 1980-2012.
Review of CPS case files for this timeframe has determined that the Calgary Police Service is the agency of jurisdiction for two unsolved Aboriginal female homicides and one unresolved missing Aboriginal female from 1980-2012.
If you know where a missing person is, or you have any information about a missing person, call the CPS Missing Person’s Tip Line at 403-428-2250 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.