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.

Article Index


From here you can download research publications, free of charge, in PDF format.

Below are also copies of Missing People's  survey reports, conference presentations and consultation submissions. Research reports are ordered by date, most recent first.

"All of us were broken" (2019)

This report explores the experiences of families whose children have been criminally exploited, including through county lines. It covers: Early warning signs of exploitation; the links between missing and exploitation; the impacts of the  escalation of exploitation; the support needs of families and children; and recommendations.

The report provides details of the harrowing experiences of the families, the lack of adequate support for children and families, and the need for a better response from all agencies involved in responding to exploitation.


Living in Limbo Five Years On report cover image

Living in Limbo: 5 Years On (2013) 

A summary of work done to improve the support available to the family members of missing people, continuing the work of the ground-breaking Living in Limbo research. Click here or on the report title above to download the full report. (Steyne, R., Alves, H., Robinson, K., Towell, H. and Holmes, L. 2013).



Lessons from Australia: Developing a new counselling service for families when someone is missing (2011)

Lessons from Australia report cover image

In 2011 Senior Services Manager, Helen Morell (now Alves) travelled to Australia on a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust (WCMT) Fellowship to explore the provision of emotional support to families of missing people. This report describes Helen's trip and the lessons she learned. Click here or on the report title above to download the full report. (Morell, H. 2011).



Living in Limbo: The experiences of, and impacts on, the families of missing people (2008)

Living in Limbo report cover image

Living in Limbo provides an account of the devastating impact that going missing can have on family members left behind, including emotional, social, financial, legal and practical difficulties. The charity has launched a campaign to improve the rights of family members of missing people, as a direct result of the findings of the Living in Limbo research. Click on the report title above to download the full report. To download the summary report, please click  here. To download the technical report, please click here. (Holmes, L. 2008).


A summary of research about the experiences of families when someone is missing.

If you are looking for advice and support for people when someone they care about is missing, you can find it here.

Families and missing (2013)

Click here or on the title above to download the Information Sheet as a PDF.

You might also wish to consult the following research reports on this topic.

Living in Limbo: The experiences of, and impacts on, the families of missing people (2008)

Living in Limbo: 5 Years On (2013)

An Uncertain Hope (2012)

Families living with absence: Searching for missing people (2013)


Family feedback survey reports

The research team conducts a regular survey of family members who have used the charity’s services. The Family Feedback Survey provides an opportunity for families of missing people to give feedback about the services they have received, and to make recommendations about service development and what further support they need. The anonymous Caller Feedback Survey, conducted in 2011, allowed the charity to gauge callers’ satisfaction with the services provided by our confidential helpline services.

Family Feedback Survey 2013

Family Feedback Survey 2012

Family Feedback Survey 2011

Family Feedback Survey 2010

Caller Feedback Survey 2011


Conference presentations

Holmes, L., Shalev Greene, K., Clarke, C. and Pakes, F. (2015) 'The Impact of Living with Missing Incidents: How the experience and fear of missing incidents affects people with dementia and those who care for them', paper presented at the 25th Alzheimer Europe conference, Ljubljana, Slovenia 2-4 September 2015.

Holmes, L. (2010) ‘When a Loved One Goes Missing’, paper presented at the British Sociological Association Conference, Glasgow Caledonian University, 7-9 April 2010.Holmes, L. (2008) ‘Service User as Research Participant’, paper presented at the NCVO/ VSSN Researching the Voluntary Sector Conference, University of Warwick 9-10 September 2008.Holmes, L. (2009) 'Living in Limbo: The experiences of, and impacts on, the families of missing people’, paper presented to the Joint Annual Missing Persons Conference, Ryton Police Training Centre 29-30 April 2009.

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