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Geographies of Missing People Processes, Experiences, Responses Economic and Social Research Council funded research project.

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Presentation on theme: "Geographies of Missing People Processes, Experiences, Responses Economic and Social Research Council funded research project."— Presentation transcript:

1 Geographies of Missing People Processes, Experiences, Responses Economic and Social Research Council funded research project

2 Research Context  Relatively few studies of ‘going missing’ and most are focused on young people;  Typologies of missing people and triggers for ‘missingness’;  Grampian Police research into personal and spatial profiling of missing people.  Academic neglect of adult missing experience: what can we learn?

3 1000 m Circle Place Missing From Place Found 850 m

4 Research Team  Dr Hester Parr (University of Glasgow): social geographies of mental health and qualitative methodologies;  Professor Nick Fyfe (University of Dundee & Scottish Institute for Policing Research): police decision-making and witness protection;  Dr Penny Woolnough (Grampian Police & Scottish Institute for Policing Research) : use of profiling in missing persons inquiries  Dr Olivia Stevenson (University of Glasgow): research fellow for project

5 Development of Research Proposal Consultation with:  NPIA and Missing Persons Bureau;  Missing People Charity;  Grampian Police and Metropolitan Police Service;  Continuing involvement throughout the project via the Steering Group from 2011

6 Research Aims 1. To examine the scope capabilities and capacities of organisations to track missing adult people over space and through time; 2. To investigate the experiential geographies of missing people and their families; 3. To advance policy, operational and conceptual understandings of missingness

7 Research Design and Methods  Case study approach working with two police forces: Metropolitan Police Service and Grampian Police;  Interviewing a sample of returned people reported missing in each police area, focusing on their ‘missing journey’;  Interviewing local police officers and carrying out case reconstructions will be used to examine police organisational responses to specific missing person cases in the two case study areas;  National level interviews with those playing key roles in organisational responses to missing person cases including those from the Missing Persons Bureau, the Missing People Charity, the Police National Search Centre NPIA National Search Advisor, NPIA Crime Investigation Support Officers, and Police Search Advisers (PolSAs).  Interviews with a sample of families of people reported missing in order to understand how families mobilize and deploy their own resources to search for missing relatives and loved ones;  All interviews to be conducted in accordance with ethical guidelines and Glasgow University Ethics Committee has approved planned interview schedules

8 Interviews with people reported missing in Grampian: recruitment process  Adults reported missing in 2009 & 2010, were asked to participate  NPIA assisted in identifying long term (post 14days) closed Grampian cases to include in the sample;  Over 1400 letters from police sent to 2009 and 2010 returned missing which contained SAE/telephone numbers for response direct to research team; repeat letter to 2010 only  43 responses (3% response rate)

9 Interviews with people reported missing in Grampian  Of that 3 per cent–  32 individuals responded to a first call, 9 to the second  25 Males / 18 Females  Year missing (1); 2009 (10); 2010 (25); Not known (7) Time away – <1 day = 15; 1-3 days = 12; 3 – 7 days = 3; 7 – 14 days = 1; Post 14 days = 5; Don't know = 7

10 Topic guide for interviews with people reported missing  Going missing  Journey narratives  Possessions/Objects/Encounters  Transport and tracking  Police interactions  Thoughts of return  Being found/returning  Interventions/helplines

11 Examples of ‘missing’ narratives I  Male with a history of ‘running away’ and suffers from depression;  Decided to ‘run away’ and took a coach from Perth to Edinburgh, and then night bus to London, choosing London as it is a transport hub;  When he reached London, he wandered round Victoria coach station for a short while feeling tired and anxious before deciding to buy a ticket to Dover. He chose Dover because he had seen it on TV and he was considering throwing himself of a cliff.  On arrival in Dover, he made his way to the town centre where he located a chemist, brought some more paracetamol, and then went to the cliffs. He sat on the cliffs, took some more pills, cut his wrists, and eventually fell asleep for the night.  The next morning he made his way back to the centre where he met a priest who asked him if he was ok. They then went to the church together, the priest called a doctor, and he was then admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Male, 42-years-old, unemployed, Aberdeen

12 Examples of missing narratives II  Missing episode was several hours. Does not consider himself to have been a missing person. At the time he was in a relationship that he felt to be quite controlling. He got drunk, they had a huge argument, which resulted in the girlfriend going off and he then trashed the house before leaving to go for a walk. His girlfriend called the GP and it was the GP that reported him missing because he was concerned for his well ‑ being. He walked well trodden routes, across country roads and along the way he stopped in at an acquaintance house for a cup of tea before going to a friend for ‘a smoke’. The act of going to the acquaintances was one of ultimate freedom and defiance because this would never have been allowed when he was with his girlfriend. He chose the acquaintances because he had heard that they were not very nice and was curious. The interviewee was not fond of the police and so when they called his mobile to find out where he was he deliberately told them he was in other places to throw them off the scent. Eventually when they located him and offered him a lift home, he refused. Going wandering was a liberating event and signalled the start of something new. Male, 34-years-old, employed, Rural Aberdeenshire

13 Broader Analytical and Policy Questions Qualitative data will provide opportunities to address range of analytical questions including:  How do individuals and agencies involved in searching mobilize and co-ordinate their different knowledge's, skills and resources?  How do search agents interpret and reflect on spatial information about missingness?  How do people experience the processes of going and staying missing?  What are the key social impacts on families of missing people?  How can insights from the qualitative research be harnessed to inform and enhance policy and practice?

14 Outputs & Knowledge Exchange Strategy  Practitioner and policy focused materials to inform the work of police and other organisations in tracing missing persons and supporting families;  UK and international dissemination events to help inform policy and develop a strategic research agenda around missing people;  Academic outputs;  Enhanced public awareness via use of the media

15 Opportunities to contribute  Welcome feedback on the design of the project;  Keen to interview those with experience missing person cases;  Welcome advice on how to make the findings from the project of value to practitioners  Contact member of the project team.


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