Here’s what to do if you find something.
What should I do?
Taking in found property is not a statutory duty for the police. If you have found someone's property, your legal obligation is to try to reunite it with the owner. In all cases reasonable steps to trace the owner should be made. You could do this by:
- handing the item in at the location of finding;
- asking people who are nearby / live nearby to where you found the item;
- leaving your contact details at the place of find so that the owner may contact you;
- putting up a notice near to where you found the item i.e. placing an advert in a shop or post office window, use a community noticeboard, or posters at the location of find; or
- Posting it on local/community social media pages (e.g. Facebook, Twitter or Instagram).
Depending on what you have found and where you have found it, we may not be best placed to identify the owner and reunite them with their property.
We will where possible make every effort to reunite an item to its rightful owner; however there are circumstances when we feel someone else is better placed to help you.
Should I report found property to the police?
We will only take found reports for a limited range of items, specifically:
- Hazardous items, including: firearms, ammunition, explosives, offensive weapons, chemicals, toxins, controlled drugs/medicines or poisons
- • Foreign National Passports (Non-EU), Foreign National ID Cards (Non-EU) and UK Residence Cards
- Cash above £50.00 (fifty pounds)
You can do this by getting in touch with us in the ways shown on our “Contact us” page.
All other items of found property should not be reported to GMP, however take a look at the guidance below for details on what to do next.
Found something in a public place?
If you have found an item in a public place/premises or on public transport, such as:
- Licensed premises (pubs, bars, nightclubs)
- Private premises (house, hotel, hostel)
- Business premises (restaurants, shops, supermarkets, offices, entertainment venues)
- Educational premises (schools, universities, colleges)
- Public transport (trains, buses, trams)
- Taxis (including Private Hire vehicles)
You should make direct contact at the time of finding to notify them that an item has being found. They usually operate their own lost and found property service and are best placed to deal with the enquiry. It is also likely that the owner will look for their lost item at locations where they have previously visited.
If you have found an identifiable document, such as:
- Driving license
- UK Passport
- EU Passport
- National Insurance Card
- Identity Card (except Foreign National ID Card)
- Bank Card, Credit Card or Cheque Book
- Birth, Adoption, Death, Marriage and Civil Partnership Certificates
- Blue Disabled Badge
- Travel Pass (e.g. Bus Pass, Metrolink Pass, Rail Card)
These should be returned directly to the issuing authority/provider.
Electronic Devices / Mobile Phone
If you have found an electronic device or mobile phone that may contain personal data you should hand the item in to your nearest Public Enquiry Counter. Just enter your postcode into the box at the top of this page to find out where it is.
If you have found someone’s property your legal obligation is to try and reunite it with the owner. In all cases reasonable steps to trace the owner should be made.
For unidentifiable or low value property items such as empty handbags, cases, wallets, purses, clothing, perishable goods, umbrellas, glasses etc., you should take reasonable steps to trace the owner. If still unidentified there is nothing further that you can do to trace the owner, you can take possession of the item or dispose of it.
Can I keep the item of found property?
In Law, the finder of the property usually has the right to retain possession. This does not apply over and above the rights of the real owner of the property or, in some circumstances, the owner of the land where the property was found.
If you have found someone's property, your legal obligation is to try to reunite it with the owner. In all cases reasonable steps to trace the owner should be made.
In addition, you can't keep the item if:
- you keeping it would be unlawful, for example firearms, drugs, explosives, offensive weapons etc (you must call us on 101)
- we believe it's related to a crime, for example a large sum of cash, a weapon, the location where it was found was unusual (call us on 101 so we can check)
- It poses a direct threat to the public (for example, Hazardous items, including: firearms, ammunition, explosives, offensive weapons, chemicals, toxins, controlled drugs/medicines or poisons);
- it shows someone's identity, may be used fraudulently or to commit other crimes;
- it contains, or potentially contains, personal data;
- war medals; or
- it's an official or confidential document. This includes anything belonging to a Government Department or Armed forces, whether UK or foreign; and confidential personal documents which identify an individual (you must contact the issuing organisation)
Can I dispose of it, give it to charity or sell it?
You can dispose of an item, give to charity or sell it, if you've taken reasonable steps to locate the owner such as leaving your contact details at the place of finding, and on the understanding that if the owner comes forward, you must give it back.
Furthermore, you should retain the item for at least 28 days before disposing of it.
Please note: if the owner finds the item for sale and is made aware that you sold it, common law entitles them to the money you received from the sale.
If you give the item to charity you should advise them that the item is not yours and that you found it and inform them of the reasonable steps you have taken to locate the owner.