Proposal to design 'missing persons' harm mapping model

Research Institution / Organisation

University of Dundee

In Collaboration With

National Crime Agency

Principal Researcher

Joe Apps

Level of Research


Project Start Date

May 2016

Research Context

​Theories around crime mapping have recently been extended to include crime harm mapping work by Sherman, Neyroud and Neyroud (2015 Cambridge: Cambridge Criminology). Their work, in the design of the Cambridge Crime Harm Index, uses sentencing guidelines to weight crime in order of harm to individuals, communities and society.
Using only sentencing guidelines to judge or allocate a value to harm by specific crimes has the potential to overlook harm caused by anti-social behaviour and disorder (see as examples, Innes 2014 Signal Crimes; Wilson and Kelling 1983 Broken Windows).


Using academic theories around crime mapping and crime harm mapping, is it possible to devise a method to calculate harm from missing persons' episodes? Some harm is easy to see (homicide and suicide for example). Other harms, linked to missing, are also capable of being calculated (domestic abuse, CSEA, trafficking are examples). Less obvious harms might include mental health, lack of opportunity to secure jobs, poor physical and mental development, and so on. Calculating a value for these conditions is likely to be more problematic.


Using an index of missing harm could provide an alternative method of analysing missing persons' episodes and should enable a move away from volumes and percentages of missing persons. Using a harm index should lead to a more sophisticated approch to prevent and protect strategies.

Research Methodology

​To be confirmed

Interim reports and publications

​Not available

Date due for completion

June 2020
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