Research and information

A collection of current knowledge about the issue of missing as well as our research reports, projects, collaborations and events.  

Understanding the reasons why people go missing and the impact on families left behind enables Missing People and our partners to provide better services.

Missing People’s research team conducts research and evaluation projects on a range of topics, and seeks to share the findings through these web pages. 

The Policy and Research team also provides a hub of information about missing, advocates for change through campaigns and policy work, and monitors and evaluates the charity's impact.

Missing News

The Policy and Research team circulates a regular newsletter, Missing News, containing up to date information about research, policy, events and sector developments. To sign up to Missing News, or to read previous editions, click here.

Why do people go missing?

People go missing for a myriad of reasons. It is often not possible to identify one singular reason as a person might be facing a number of contributing issues.

People can go missing intentionally or unintentionally and we respect the right of adults to go missing if they choose. However, the majority of people who go missing are vulnerable in some way. Research suggests that up to 80% of adults who go missing have mental health issues and children who go missing are vulnerable due to their young age.

For more information about the reasons that people go missing please see our information sheets relating to adults and children.

Police data records the reason that some people have gone missing. However, this data may be unreliable as it depends upon the missing person or their family disclosing the reason to the police and that being accurately recorded. The most common reason recorded by police for going missing was mental health (15%). The second was a relationship (12%), which might include relationship breakdown with a parent or carer (56% of cases with this reason identified related to individuals aged between 12 and 17). The third most common reason was being abducted (12%), which includes parental abduction. Following this are drugs/alcohol (8%) and depression/anxiety (6%).

Further details regarding missing people reported to the police can be found in UK Missing Persons Bureau Missing Persons Data Report.

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