Missing Children Publication Hub

The publications in this section contain the results of our research as well as curated research on topics and issues relevant to missing children in Europe and the world. Example of the type of research you can find are understanding the causes of the different types of missing children cases in Europe, policy on missing children, search and rescue operations and family support. The menu and submenu options below will help you find what you're looking for.

If you'd like to share relevant research with us, please send the title, a link and description of the research to info@missingchildreneurope.eu.

Missing Children Publication Hub

Law enforcement

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Adult missing persons: Statistical identification of behavioural themes (by Penny Woolnough, Emily Bonny, Louise Almond )



There is a limited amount of research in the area of missing adults. The aim of this research is to expand on the understanding of missing people by outlining the behaviours exhibited by adults while they are missing and determining if distinct behavioural themes exist. Based on previous literature it was hypothesised that three behavioural themes will be present; dysfunctional, escape and unintentional. Thirty-six behaviours were coded from 362 missing person Police reports and analysed using smallest space analysis (SSA). Through the examination of this spatial representation the underlying structure revealed three distinct behavioural themes. Furthermore, 70% of the adult missing person reports were able to be classified under one dominant theme, 41% were ‘unintentional’, 18% were ‘dysfunctional’ and 11% were ‘escape’. The relationship between a missing person's dominant behavioural theme and their assigned risk level, reasons for going missing and demographic characteristics were also examined. The findings have implications on how practitioners prioritise adult missing person reports, as well as on interventions used in order to prevent individuals from going missing. Ultimately, the findings have the potential to help increase the speed of adult missing person investigations.






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