Missing persons: Concentration and contagion

Research Institution / Organisation

University College London

In Collaboration With

Thames Valley Police and Violence Reduction Unit

Level of Research

Professional / Work-based

Project Start Date

July 2020

Research Context

A large number of people are reported missing each year. Missing events are a significant area of risk. Individuals can come to harm whilst missing and there may be underlying vulnerabilities and drivers causing the missing events. These events can be resource intensive for the police (and partners) and the number of these events are increasing. These events have significant impacts on individuals, families and communities.

This research aims to understand the contagion of missing person incidents. It will investigate if there is are 'repeat' effects, whereby individuals who go missing are at increased risk of going missing again for some period afterwards or if these events are more concentrated within groups. If so this may offer the opportunity for focused prevention and supportive activity to reduce the likelihood of future harm.

Research Methodology

Historic police data on missing events in the force will be anonymised and used to build models to look at social effects (i.e. peer effects) and relationships to aggregate level data.

The research will investigate if increased contact or closeness in terms of separation with other missing people increases the risk of an individual being reported missing themselves.

The research will explore a number of statistical techniques to model the contagion or near repeat effects.

Date due for completion

January 2022
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