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Explore our work in the area of Missing Persons

We're researching patterns of behaviour that may precede a person going missing and working to improve how cases are handled.

Each year, people go missing during their regular, everyday activities and during major events like wars or natural disasters. In the UK alone, a person is reported missing to the police every 2 minutes. 

The Missing Persons research group (formerly known as the Centre for the Study of Missing Persons) was founded to accommodate the growing interest in the field. Our purpose is to:

  • Increase capacity to conduct research in the field of missing persons.
  • Promote the development of professionalism and the process of professionalisation within the missing persons community.
  • Facilitate knowledge transfer between sectors serving this field.
  • Collate and organise the widest possible range of information, research, publications and data about the nature and extent of missing persons and discuss the solutions which have been and are being applied.
  • Make this information available to those working in the missing persons community.

Missing persons is a universal phenomenon that remains vastly under researched and often misunderstood by the public, professionals, politicians and academics. This group provides a clear focus for research, knowledge transfer and educational provision to academics, professionals and relatives of missing people. 

We promote networking opportunities between practitioners and academics from the UK and internationally by organising and co-organising international conferences, webinars and media work. 

Our group members cover a range of expertise, including:

  • Geography of missing persons
  • Cost of missing persons investigation
  • Missing persons and mental health
  • Risk assessment of missing persons
  • Adults with dementia who go missing
  • Inter-agency work in cases of missing persons
  • Unaccompanied migrant minors who go missing
  • Missing on a night out
  • Children missing from care
  • Return interviews
  • Needs of families of missing persons
  • Child abduction and child exploitation
  • Missing abroad
  • Search and rescue
  • Forensic identification
  • Publicity appeals

The group also supports the Missing Persons Information Hub — a single point of reference with information about all aspects of missing persons. It is aimed at everyone who may be involved or needs help, including persons who are missing, those connected to them, professionals and academics.

Research impact 

We are involved with a wide variety of research projects and consultancy that span the entire subject of missing persons. We promote an international outlook and are open to work with organisations from the UK and from other countries and cultures. For more information about our research please see our staff profiles, linked below.

Our staff have an established track record in providing research and knowledge transfer services to a range of organisations, including:

The Missing Persons research group lead, Dr Karen Shalev Greene, is the chief editor of the International Journal of Missing Persons and co-presenter of the Missing Persons Uncovered podcast.

Funded projects and consultancy

  • Cost of Missing Person Investigations (2021-2022). Funded by the Home Office.
  • People who go missing abroad: an examination of patterns, costs and investigative challenges (2020). Funded by Metropolitan Police Force. 
  • Evaluation of Child Rescue Alert system (2018). Funded by the National Crime Agency.
  • Wellbeing of Police officers and staff dealing with missing persons cases. Funded via Erasmus+ trainee programme, which paid for two Portuguese students who worked as research assistants for four months.
  • Safeguarding Unaccompanied Migrant Minors from Going Missing by Identifying Best Practices and Training Actors on Interagency Cooperation. Funded by EU DAPHNE programme.

Teaching and related courses

The Missing Persons research group members translate high quality research into teaching material for criminology and forensics courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. We also offer supervision for PhD study in Criminology and professional doctorates.

Our Missing Persons: Issues and Investigation module includes input from both our academic staff and our contacts in practice. We also deliver the postgraduate Missing Persons: Global Perspective modules at MSc level.

Our stand-alone short course in Missing Persons: Global Perspectives is the first of its kind worldwide. It’s suitable for practitioners and members of the public with an interest in the field. This distance-learning course runs for three and a half months and is worth 30 credits at postgraduate level. Read more and book your place.

Partnerships and collaborations

  • Association of Lowland Search and Rescue (ALSAR)
  • Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command (CEOP) (National Crime Agency)
  • International Centre of Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC)
  • Missing Children Europe
  • Missing People
  • National Crime Agency
  • National Police Lead on Missing Persons
  • Police forces across the UK
  • Police Innovation Fund
  • Police National Search Centre
  • UK Missing Persons Unit (National Crime Agency)

Group Leader

Deputy Leader

Craig John Robert Collie Portrait

Dr Craig Collie

Principal Lecturer

School of Criminology and Criminal Justice

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

PhD Supervisor

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Dion Blair Glass Portrait

Dr Dion Glass

Senior Lecturer

School of Criminology and Criminal Justice

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Simona Ciobotaru Portrait

Ms Simona Ciobotaru


Senior Lecturer

School of Criminology and Criminal Justice

Faculty of Science and Health

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PhD projects

  • Understanding why some missing persons investigations turn into cold cases.
  • Mapping the journeys of missing people with dementia.
  • Advanced Techniques in the Management and Intelligence Gathering in the Search for Missing Persons.
  • What are we Missing? ‘The effectiveness of Missing Persons information capture systems in supporting the identification and safeguarding of vulnerable young persons and adults engaged in County Lines activities across England and Wales.