The Centre for the Study of Missing Persons, founded to accommodate the growing interest in the field of missing persons, provides a clear focus for research, knowledge transfer and educational provision to academics, professionals in this community and relatives of missing people.

Our purpose is to:

  1. Increase capacity to conduct research in the field of missing persons
  2. Promote the development of professionalism and the process of professionalization within the missing persons community
  3. Facilitate knowledge transfer between sectors serving this field
  4. Highlight and publish the research and scholarship undertaken at SCCJ
  5. 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
  6. Make this information available to those working in the missing persons community 

There is a small but growing body of research into missing persons, and a great deal of potential for new research to fill the gaps in existing knowledge. The Centre for the Study of Missing Persons has been created to enhance this knowledge and contribute towards a reduction of the problem.

Dr. Karen Shalev Greene, Director of CSMP


Centre staff teach on undergraduate courses in criminology and forensics. Our Missing Persons: Issues and Investigation module is the first of its kind offered to students in the UK, and includes input not only from our academic staff, but from our contacts in practice. 

We offer supervision for PhD study in Criminology and professional doctorates

Our stand-alone short course in Missing Persons is the first of its kind worldwide, and is 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.

The charity Missing People is delighted to be working in partnership with the CSMP. Research is vital for developing understanding of the experiences of missing people and their families, and for identifying gaps in provision. We believe that this partnership will provide insight into what more can be done to safeguard, support and reconnect missing people.
Jo Youle, CEO Missing People

Research and knowledge transfer

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

  • CEOP (National Crime Agency)
  • International Centre of Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC)
  • Missing Children Europe
  • Missing People
  • Police forces across the UK
  • Police National Search Centre
  • Association of Lowland Search and Rescue (ALSAR)
  • UK Missing Persons Unit (National Crime Agency)

They have a wide range of expertise. For example,

  • 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
  • Children missing from care
  • Return interviews
  • Needs of families of missing persons
  • Child abduction and child exploitation
  • Search and rescue
  • Forensic Identification

Research activities

We are involved with a variety of research projects in this area, collaborating with various agencies and organisations in the UK.

    Funded research projects and consultancy

    • Evaluation of Child Rescue Alert system (2018, funded by the National Crime Agency)(£5,000 allocated to the University of Portsmouth)
    • The effectiveness, awareness and decision making of security staff in the context of preventing stranger child abduction. Project is funded by FHSS Research Project Funding 2016 – 2019. (£5,000)
    • Wellbeing of Police officers and staff dealing with missing persons cases. The project was funded via Erasmus+ trainee programme, which paid for two Portuguese students who worked as research assistants for four months.
    • Scoping research on the impact of missing children publicity appeals (2016, funded by the EU DAPHNE programme) (Total budget is 6,590€. £3,300 allocated for the University of Portsmouth). Collaboration with Missing Children Europe and Dr. Penny Woolnough, University of Abertay.
    • Protecting Vulnerable Persons and Reducing Demand of Police Time and Resources using Assistive Technology. Police Innovation fund (2016 – 2017). Collaborating with West Yorkshire and Hertfordshire Police forces. Police Innovation Fund (Total budget is £160,715)(£3,300 allocated for the University of Portsmouth).
    • Exercise Unified Response (EUR). Evaluating objective 4: Test management of information about missing persons involved in the disaster. (2016)(University of Portsmouth received £12,000 for evaluation of exercise).
    • The usefulness of child alert systems in the Netherlands, United Kingdom (UK), Czech Republic and Poland (2016)(£1,939). Funded by AMBER Alert Europe.
    • Minimizing violence through quality control: Monitoring and evaluating 116000 hotlines to prevent, support and protect missing children (2014 – 2015, funded by EU DAPHNE programme) (Total budget of project is 472,427€. £3,000 received by University of Portsmouth)
    • Metropolitan Police Force- Evaluation of remote debrief of missing children (2015) (Overall budget for project was under £20,000)(£5,400 allocated to the University of Portsmouth).
    • Carers role in the search for missing people living with dementia- Project funded by the FHSS Strategic Funding Scheme (Study was completed in September 2015) (£40,000).
    • SUMMIT - Safeguarding Unaccompanied Migrant Minors from Going Missing by Identifying Best Practices and Training Actors on Interagency Cooperation. (2014 – 2016) funded by EU DAPHNE programme) (Total budget of project is €267,663. £9,000 received by University of Portsmouth)
    • Assessment of ‘absent’ (2013, funded by ACPO) (£5,000 allocated to the University of Portsmouth)

    Discussion network

    Researchers and practitioners with interests in themes of missing children and adults may request membership of our Missing Persons Research discussion network, hosted by JISCMail.

    Conferences we deliver

    Past conferences

    We hosted the first international conference on Missing Children and Adults in 2013, and contribute to the biennial conferences held in universities around Europe:


    Karen Shalev Greene Portrait

    Media ready expert

    Professor Karen Shalev Greene

    Professor of Missing Persons Studies

    PhD Supervisor

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    Craig John Robert Collie Portrait

    Mr Craig Collie

    Principal Lecturer

    School of Criminology and Criminal Justice

    Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

    PhD Supervisor

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    Further information

    Please email us with any suggestions or queries on