Wednesday, 27 July 2011

A new research project about missing adults

When talking about the missing issue, it is easy to focus on the many children who disappear each year. After all, they make up two-thirds of missing reports, and it’s incredibly distressing to imagine a vulnerable child, out in the world alone, with nowhere to turn.

But there’s more to the picture. Thousands of adults are also reported missing every year in the UK. And every one of those adults is someone’s child, or someone’s sibling, or friend. And just as young missing people face risks while they are away, a recent study of missing adults revealed that “over one third of adults had felt themselves to be in danger at some point while they were missing”. 

That said, the situation is more nuanced: adults have the right to leave their home and job if they wish, and to break off contact with family and friends. Classifying adults as missing is difficult, which means it is a struggle to measure the number of adults missing in the UK or fully understand what their experience of missing looks like.

A research team, from the Universities of Glasgow and Dundee and Grampian Police, is aiming to fill this knowledge gap with a new research project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. The project will focus on missing adults and families of missing people, as well as the police officers who search for missing people. We are glad that the charity Missing People is supporting our research by sitting on our Advisory Group.

Our research will examine how different agencies involved in searching for missing people use their different knowledge, skills and resources to intervene in missing 'events' and 'processes'. In particular, we will investigate the geographical strategies employed by the police and families to search for missing people at local, national and international levels and how such strategies change and develop over time.

Call for participants

We will also want to talk to former missing people in order to understand more about the experiences of going and staying missing and particularly identify intentional and unintentional uses of space and place during missing incidents. This information on will help us understand more about 'going missing', or being reported as missing.

Would you like to discuss your experience of going missing?

We’re hoping to talk, in confidence, to adults who have been missing. Where possible we would like to speak in person, but can also conduct interviews by telephone. We would especially like to talk to people who were missing for more than more than 3 days, and especially those people missing for more than 14 days.

Speaking first hand to missing people and their families is really important as it might help interested parties, such as the police, charities, families and returned missing people, better understand how to respond to the concerns that missing people themselves face.

If you are over 18 years old, have ever been missing for more than 3 days, and would like to share your experience of this time, we would like to hear from you.

Equally, if you just want to find out more about the project you can contact me by email:; telephone 0141 330 8655 or 07582 903 175; or leave a message on the project’s Facebook page:
For further information you can view the project’s website at:

By Dr. Olivia Stevenson
Research Fellow
Geographies of missing people: experiences, processes, responses

1 comment:

  1. This is great news. There hasn't been enough research about missing adults.


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