The Economic and Social Research Council has funded Glasgow and Dundee Universities, in collaboration with Police Scotland, to investigate ‘the geographies of missing people’.

The project is conceived as a way to ‘add value’ to existing police-based knowledge of where people go when they are reported as missing.  The research will use qualitative methods – in depth interviews – with returned missing people in order to understand more about why, how and where people journey to when they are reported missing.

This project is unique as to date no UK or international study has incorporated the views of people reported as missing in quite this way. The result will be a subtle understanding of how people use and perceive the environments they move through during these ‘crisis mobilities’.

The researchers are also examining how police officers search for people reported as missing; and also the ways in which ‘geography’ is perceived during the search.  We aim to bring into conversation the spatial experience of missing people, with the ways in which police conceive of and construct the ‘spatiality’ (the spatial components) of the search for the missing. The study will focus on Police Scotland and London MPS forces.

In addition, both the police and the Missing People charity are enabling qualitative interviewing of families of missing people; again to understand how families mount particular kinds of searches based on their own informal and intimate geographical knowledges of the missing. Understanding more about how family knowledge and police knowledge work together can enhance appreciation of the ‘informational setting’ which are important in comprising the search parameters in missing cases.

The intended impacts of this study are both relevant to the police, the Missing People charity and academic audiences and please go now to our Research Impacts page to find out more.