Behavioural themes in Spanish missing persons cases: an empirical typology

Néstor García-Barceló*, José Luis González Álvarez, Penny Woolnough, Louise Almond

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)
    152 Downloads (Pure)


    The high number of missing person reports that occur globally each year highlights the need for research in this academically neglected field. This research focuses on establishing whether there are different scenarios or behavioural themes that consistently appear in missing person cases in Spain, which could assist the police investigation process. A representative sample of 341 missing person police reports was collated and up to 27 behaviours, which occur during the disappearance, have been codified, as well as circumstances surrounding the case. Through multidimensional scaling four behavioural themes have been identified: intentional‐escape, intentional‐dysfunctional, unintentional‐accidental, and forced‐criminal. These findings entail implications, both in terms of prevention and in the scope of police investigations. Specifically, this research is considered a key step in the development of: (a) a predictive risk assessment system for harmed or deceased outcomes, and (b) in‐depth review of forced‐criminal disappearances that concur with homicide.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)349-364
    Number of pages16
    JournalJournal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling
    Issue number3
    Early online date27 Sept 2020
    Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2020


    • Behavioural themes
    • Missing persons
    • Multidimensional scaling
    • Typology


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