Any person who is thought to have disappeared deliberately. Find Out More

By Terrain

Male Female Other Total
Crag / Broken Ground 22 5 3 30
Farmland 149 77 4 230
Moorland / Upland 64 18 7 89
Not Specified 4 0 0 4
Plantation (dense) 47 6 1 54
Urban 94 79 13 186
Water Margin 45 16 4 65
Woodland / Parkland 90 25 3 118
Total: 515 226 35 776

The four characteristics shown in table 16 come from an analysis of the text fields of reports submitted via the data collection system. These were the characteristics of the missing person that were most frequently mentioned. They are not mutually exclusive, so for example a missing person could have been reported as having threatened to commit suicide as well as having a history of previous threats.

All this is dependent entirely on what the individual doing the reporting felt was worth mentioning. This should be borne in mind when considering the conclusions that we have drawn about the behaviour of missing despondents with these characteristics. It is worth noting, however, that 69% of the reports submitted for missing despondents included a reference to at least one of them, which leads us to suspect that where a characteristic was present then it was highly likely to have been reported.

By Outcome

n %
Unhurt 289 37.2%
Minor Injury 108 13.9%
No Trace 67 8.6%
Fatality 235 30.3%
Serious Injury 11 1.4%
Unknown 66 8.5%

Despondents were significantly different from all the other categories in the study. Overall, significantly fewer despondents were found unhurt, and significantly more were either found injured or not found at all. The percentages varied with the terrain and, in the case of farmland, by gender. The results for plantations and woodland were similar, and were combined for ease of reporting

By Location Found

Habitation 196
Linear Feature 37
Not Found 116
Open Ground 61
Travel Aid 110
Trees 158
Water 98

Significant differences were found between the different types of terrain, and there was a gender difference in farmland. As before, incidents in plantations and woodland have been combined.

The following additional information was provided with regard to four incidents for which the location was reported as ‘open ground’: at a high vantage point overlooking the valley, close to a footpath, in a quarry, in the hospital grounds.

Significant locations

In many of the reports submitted to the system (15% of female despondents and 14% of male despondents) there are references to the missing person being found in a location that is significant to them in some way, either because it is a local beauty spot or viewpoint, or they have memories associated with the place (‘… went there regularly with the family …’) or they often visited it (‘… on the route that he used to take the dog for a walk …’).

Significant locations are linked in particular to male fatalities. There is no significant difference between the likelihood of a fatality when the indication is that a missing female despondent is in a location of this sort compared with any other location.

If there are strong indicators to suggest that a missing male has headed for such a location then it is highly likely that they will be found dead; 62% of missing male
despondents found in these places are found dead, compared with 29% who are found in other locations. These are significantly different. If the missing male despondent has not threatened suicide then the fatality rate increases to 70% if they are found in a location of this kind. Again, this is a statistically significant result.

Distance From IPP (Km)

10% 0 Km
20% 0 Km
30% 0.2 Km
40% 0.5 Km
50% 0.8 Km
60% 1 Km
70% 2 Km
80% 3.5 Km
90% 10 Km
100% 278 Km

The distances travelled by despondents were significantly different to the distances travelled by all the other categories in that a greater proportion of depondents was found nearer to the IPP (36% of despondents were found within 0.5 km of the IPP compared to 25% of the other categories); terrain and gender made no significant difference to the distances despondents travelled.

Possible Scenarios

The principle of ‘lines and points’ is a useful guide to constructing scenarios for all categories of missing person, and for despondents in particular. ‘Points’ are the missing person’s likely destinations, and the ‘lines’ are the routes that they could have taken to get there. As a general rule, likely points towards which a missing despondent might be heading are a building, or trees, or a body of water. The likelihood of each of these being the missing person’s intended destination depends on the type of terrain in which they are missing, and, in the case of farmland, their gender.

Local knowledge plus information about the missing person’s habits and patterns of behaviour should be used in conjunction with more detailed, gender specific, information in tables 18 and 19 of the 2011 study to assist in identifying likely destinations.  Particular attention should be given to places which are either familiar to the missing person or which could be described as scenic.

Category Information from 2011 Study