The world’s first Centre for the Study of Missing Persons (CSMP) is opening at the University of Portsmouth today.
The CSMP is designed to be a comprehensive resource for the study of missing persons and will act as a central point of access to the most extensive bank of knowledge and expertise on the subject.
It is aimed at everyone from researchers and professionals in the field such as social services, charities and the police to the friends and families of those who are missing. A web site will contain a wealth of information and resources on the subject but will not hold personal details of individuals and their cases.
Its founder, Dr Karen Shalev Greene from the University’s Institute of Criminal Justice Studies, believes it will act as a community for everyone involved with missing persons to come together and share knowledge and expertise. She said that this is the first time such a vast quantity of information from so many sources has come together.
“Over 250,000 people go missing in the UK every year which makes it a huge phenomenon requiring massive amounts of time and resource. Most cases are solved within a year but by providing a central hub of information we can direct people to the abundance of knowledge and resources which exist already, saving valuable time when it counts.”
The web site, which is freely accessible, will include useful links for families of missing relatives such as where to obtain support and advice. It will also act as a publication bank which will include the latest published research on subjects such as child abduction and trafficking, running away, vulnerable adults and effects on families, as well as legislation and policy, search and rescue and forensic identification. This is aimed at practitioners, researchers as well as those with no prior knowledge who want to find out more.
Dr Shalev Greene also hopes that it will encourage the advancement of research in the subject which she says needs more focus.
“A great deal of excellent research exists but there’s room for more in depth studies to be done and this is another aim of the centre.”
The site will be a central point for links to specialist sites such as the UK Missing Persons Bureau and the Government Directory for Missing people, as well as charities such as Missing People which searches on behalf of families and provides them with support.
Martin Houghton-Brown, CEO of Missing People, the centre’s official partner, said that he was delighted that the charity was part of the initiative.
“It represents an exciting opportunity to increase capacity for research about missing children and adults and will help us ensure that every person who goes missing, for whatever reason, is reconnected to safety.”
In 2013 the CSMP will host an academic conference at the University of Portsmouth bringing together experts in the field to share their ideas and research interests.