Missing women: policing absence

Olivia Stevenson, Hester Parr, Penny Woolnough

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    This paper considers the neglected mobilities associated with a sample of UK women reported as missing. Refracted through literatures on gendered mobility and abandonment, the paper argues that the journeys of these women in crisis are not well understood by police services, and that normative gender relations may infuse theirmanagement. By selectively exploring one illustrative police case file on Kim, we highlight how reported andobserved socio-spatial relationships within private and public spaces relate to search actions. We argue that Kim’smobility and spatial experiences are barely understood, except for when they appear to symbolise disorder anddanger. We address the silences in this singular case by using the voices of other women reported as missing, ascollected in a research project to explore the agency, experience and meaning of female mobility during absence.We argue that women reported as missing are not abandoned by UK policing services, but that a policy ofcontinued search for them may be at risk if they repeatedly contravene normative socio-spatial relationshipsthrough regular absence mobilities. By way of conclusion, we address recent calls for research that explores therelationships between gender and mobility.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to) 220–232
    Number of pages13
    JournalTransactions of the Institute of British Geographers
    Issue number2
    Early online date29 Nov 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 7 May 2017


    • Missing women
    • Policing
    • Abandonment
    • Narrative
    • Mobility
    • Absence


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