Conference PaperPDF Available

Spanish Missing Adults’ cases: Estimating the risk of resulting in harm and fatal outcomes.

Authors:
  • Ministerio del Interior - Secretaría de Estado de Seguridad

Abstract and Figures

Internationally, recorded missing person statistics consistently highlight the scale of the operational challenge faced by police in this area and the need for research to facilitate prevention and maximise the effectiveness of multi-agency response. Central to this is the need to develop critical understanding of the risk factors that may provide an early indication of cases likely to end in a harmful or fatal outcome. The purpose of this research focuses on testing whether key distinguishing missing person variables are statistically associated with the outcome. A representative sample of 653 police reports (Civil Guard, Foral Police of Navarra, Mossos d’Esquadra and National Police) on disappearances of adults has been studied. Up to 4 main kinds of problems (family, emotional, economical and delinquency problems) as well as some specific missing person’s characteristics (being a repeating missing person case, having mental health issues or alcohol and drugs consumption) have been codified. Through Multinomial Logistic Regression some statistically significant relations between these variables and the missing person’s state of health when located have been identified. A significant regression equation was found for adults missing person’s state of health when located (χ2 =72.816, p <.000), with a Pseudo - R2 of .23 which was found to be low effect. The estimated coefficients for this multinomial regression model imply that the missing person who has family problems and is related to a criminal environment is more likely to be located in a good state of health, the missing person who has financial problems and mental health issues is more likely to be located harmed whereas the missing person who has emotional problems is more likely to be located deceased. At explicative level, those missing adults who are located harmed and have financial problems are also related to variables as drinking/abusing alcohol or drugs. In this kind of situation, harm is shown as a situation in which the person is located disoriented (unconscious in worst of the cases) and need medical assistance. In contrast, those adults who are located harmed and have mental health issues (dementia or Alzheimer among other neurodegenerative illnesses) are also related to disorientation or unconsciousness episodes and physical accidents. Regarding those adult cases who are located deceased and have emotional problems, most of them are related to suicide cases. There are some challenges pending for future research as replicating these analysis with a sample formed by adults and children as well as segmenting fatal outcomes into specific groups (suicide and homicide). These findings entail different implications. At prevention level this knowledge provides preventive information to those agencies working with vulnerable groups as well as promoting prevention campaigns focused on specific groups of people according to their specific characteristics. In the scope of police investigations these findings favour the improvement of police decision-making using an evidence-informed approach during missing person investigations, with the main goals of prioritising appropriate cases (especially those cases related to suicide and homicide outcomes).
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[ MISSING PERSON CASES ]
1
CONTEXTUALIZATION
Spain: 219.425 reports 2009-2020 (MIR, 2021)
UK: 300.00 reports/year (NCA, 2017)
Canada: 38.000 reports/year (NMPCC, 2019)
USA: 84.459 reports in 2018 (NCI, 2017)
Australia: 70.000 reports in 2019 (NCMPUR,2020)
2
OBJECTIVES: FAMILY AND POLICE NARRATIVES
We’ be very glad in case we have a
group of signals which could
identify te risk of suffering fatal
outcomes (Inspector, UFAM)
In this case we thought that the
person went voluntary missing. If we
had had a singal about the homicide,
specialists would have taken charge of
the investigation (Sargent, UOPJ)
We apply for a special
treatment for those
vulnerable missing person
cases
(SOS DESAPARECIDOS)
We think that specific statistics on
the field are needed to know how
people are located and to be able to
work on prevention and education
(AFADES)
Police action protocols should be
effectively applied and updated
(QSD Global)
Nobody can fall into
oblivion. Everyone
has the right of
being searched
Need for research to facilitate prevention and
maximise the effectiveness of multi-agency
response.
Need to develop critical understanding of the
risk factors that may provide an early
identification of cases likely to end in a harm
or fatal outcome
3
PREPARING RESEARCH
a) Describe the phenomenon
b) Identify empirical typology/themes
c) Identify risks of going missing and
resulting in harm and fatal outcomes
n=2000
4
METHOD I: RESEARCH PROCEDURE AND SAMPLE GATHERING
- 10 filiation of case
- 205 sociodemographic, psychosocial,
criminological and circms. surround case
5
METHOD II: RESEARCH PROCEDURE AND SAMPLE GATHERING
n=1140 n=2000
n=0
17%
n=340
57%
2019, 4th Conference 2021, 5th Conference
=
6
METHOD III: SAMPLE DESCRIPTION, VARIABLES AND ANALYSIS
Table 1. Sample description (n= 653)
Variable Category n (%)
Gender
Male
450
68.9
Female
165
31.1
Origin
National
540
82.7
Foreigner
112
17.3
State of health when located
Good state of health
387
59.2
Harmed
165
25.3
Deceased
101
15.5
7
RESULTS
Table 2. Multinomial Logistic Regression Coefficients for missing person’s state of
health when located (n= 653).
Predictors B (SE)
Odds Ratios
95% CI
[lower, upper]
Harmed vs. GSH
Intercept -0.68 (0.27)*
Family problems (1 = No) 0.66 (0.23)** 1.93 [1.21, 3.07]
Financial problems (1 = No) -0.20 (0.28) 0.81 [0.46, 1.42]
Emotional problems (1 = No) -0.17 (0.23) 0.83 [0.52, 1.33]
Delinquency problems (1 = No) 0.27 (0.23) 1.31 [0.83, 2.07]
Mental health issues ( 1= No) -0.90 (0.23)***
0.40 [0.25, 0.64]
Deceased vs. GSH
Intercept -2.27 (0.43)***
Family problems (1 = No) -0.23 (0.40)* 2.16 [1.14, 4.09]
Financial problems (1 = No) 0.38 (0.21) 0.95 [0.97, 0.44]
Emotional problems (1 = No) -0.96 (0.32)** 0.38 [0.20, 0.72]
Delinquency problems (1 = No) 0.83 (0.34)* 2.31 [1.17, 4.54]
Mental health issues ( 1= No) 0.52 (0.30) 1.68 [0.91, 3.07]
7
RESULTS
Table 2. Multinomial Logistic Regression Coefficients for missing person’s state of
health when located (n= 653).
Predictors B (SE)
Odds Ratios
95% CI
[lower, upper]
Harmed vs. GSH
Intercept -0.68 (0.27)*
Family problems (1 = No) 0.66 (0.23)** 1.93 [1.21, 3.07]
Financial problems (1 = No) -0.20 (0.28) 0.81 [0.46, 1.42]
Emotional problems (1 = No) -0.17 (0.23) 0.83 [0.52, 1.33]
Delinquency problems (1 = No) 0.27 (0.23) 1.31 [0.83, 2.07]
Mental health issues ( 1= No) -0.90 (0.23)***
0.40 [0.25, 0.64]
Deceased vs. GSH
Intercept -2.27 (0.43)***
Family problems (1 = No) -0.23 (0.40)* 2.16 [1.14, 4.09]
Financial problems (1 = No) 0.38 (0.21) 0.95 [0.97, 0.44]
Emotional problems (1 = No) -0.96 (0.32)** 0.38 [0.20, 0.72]
Delinquency problems (1 = No) 0.83 (0.34)* 2.31 [1.17, 4.54]
Mental health issues ( 1= No) 0.52 (0.30) 1.68 [0.91, 3.07]
The missing adult who has family and delinquency problems is more likely to be located
in a good state of health.
The missing adult who has financial problems and mental health issues is more likely to
be located harmed.
The missing adult who has emotional problems is more likely to be located deceased.
8
CONCLUSIONS: LIMITATIONS AND FUTURE
Limitations Future
Complete sample + specific indicators + machine
learning techniques
n n
Homicide &
Suicide
the missing person who has family problems and is related to a criminal environment is more
likely to be located in a good state of health, the missing person who has financial problems and
mental health issues is more likely to be located harmed whereas the missing person who has
emotional problems is more likely to be located deceased.
9
CALL FOR ACTIONS: RECOMENDATIONS
Development of educational and
prevention campaigns for general
population and specific risky groups
Standardization of investigation protocols
and decision making tools (Evidence-
Informed)
Development of specific treatment
programs for missing victims and families
which their relatives remain missing
Secondary
Tertiary
Primary
Prevention type Recommendations
10
REFLECTION
PROBLEM REACTIVE RESPONSE v.s. PREVENTIVE RESPONSE
Is better an ounce of prevention
than a pound of cure?
10
REFLECTION
PROBLEM REACTIVE RESPONSE v.s. PREVENTIVE RESPONSE
Is better an ounce of prevention
than a pound of cure?
[ MISSING PERSON CASES ]
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