A mixed methods study of the mental health and criminal justice histories of missing persons

Sowerby, J and Thomas, S 2017, 'A mixed methods study of the mental health and criminal justice histories of missing persons', Police Practice and Research, vol. 18, no. 1, pp. 87-98.


Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Journal Articles

Title A mixed methods study of the mental health and criminal justice histories of missing persons
Author(s) Sowerby, J
Thomas, S
Year 2017
Journal name Police Practice and Research
Volume number 18
Issue number 1
Start page 87
End page 98
Total pages 12
Publisher Routledge
Abstract Approximately 35,000 people are reported missing each year in Australia; rates elsewhere are even higher, with a recent UK study suggesting that a person goes missing every 2 min. Missing persons place a significant burden on police services; it is interesting, therefore, that very little research attention has been paid to this topic. This mixed methods study aimed to address this significant gap by analysing the mental health and criminal justice histories of a sample of missing persons and comparing them to rates in the general community. The study found that both mental health and criminal justice histories were significantly overrepresented among missing persons compared to those in the general community, and that young people reported missing commonly displayed suicidal behaviour. Results highlight at risk groups and suggest that criminality is much more commonly implicated in missing person incidents than previously thought.
Subject Police Administration, Procedures and Practice
Keyword(s) Australia
criminal history
mental disorders
mental health
Missing person
victimisation history
DOI - identifier 10.1080/15614263.2016.1230062
Copyright notice © 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
ISSN 1561-4263
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