Buried justice: A critical review into the cross-matching of unidentified bodies and missing persons reports in England and Wales

Research Institution / Organisation

Staffordshire University

Principal Researcher

Emma Tilley

Level of Research


Project Start Date

January 2021

Research Context


  • To critically review the cross-matching process of unidentified bodies and missing persons reports in England and Wales;

  • To produce a basis for the development of a Code of Practice for unidentified bodies in England and Wales.


  • To examine how unidentified bodies and missing persons reports are cross matched;

  • To identify the obstacles and opportunities for improvement concerning the cross-matching process;

  • To identify how information about unidentified bodies is recorded, retained, acted upon, shared, and reviewed on a local, national, and international level;

  • To determine whether there are any significant contributory factors evident within solved unidentified bodies cases.

Research Methodology

​Mixed methods approach:

  • Analysis of data from the UK Missing Persons Unit

  • Freedom of Information requests to police forces, coroners, and local authorities in England and Wales

  • Semi-structured interviews with practitioners and families of missing persons

Interim reports and publications

​Not available

Date due for completion

January 2025
Return to Research Map