Research Activities

Practitioner Fellowships

Missing Person Behaviour: Implications for Police Risk Assessment and Response

Dr Penny Woolnough Grampian Police

Personal profile of Penny Woolnough...


Over the past few years, Dr Woolnough has been heavily involved with the conduct of research into the behaviour of missing persons.

Findings from initial 'behavioural profiling' research, based on analysis of cases from around the UK, was published as a guide for operational police officers by Grampian Police in 2007. This has widely become 'the' invaluable aid to missing person risk assessment and response by police forces and partner agencies around the UK. Grampian Police has received a number of awards for the work and overwhelming feedback from a wide range of practitioners reinforces that by understanding more about the behaviour of missing people we can better tailor police risk assessment and response.

Planned Activities:

Building on this initial work, current research includes a SIPR Small Research Grant funded study concerning an analysis of missing person cancellation/closure-interview forms and an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded study: Geographies of missing people .

While the findings of the initial research have been embedded into UK police training and practice, they have yet to be shared with the wider international policing and academic community. Consequently, this practitioner fellowship will support wider knowledge exchange beyond the UK Police Service, facilitating the development of national and international links with other researchers, policy makers and practitioners involved in missing persons and related social issues.


If you have any questions or would like more information concerning this Fellowship, or any of the research mentioned above, please contact Dr Woolnough.