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SCHOOL DROP-OUT In Malawi, one of the ten poorest countries in the world, initial enrolment in school is high, but half of the children drop out by the end of year six, and only one third complete the eight years of primary school education. Based on data from both northern and southern Malawi, researchers aim to explore the pathways to drop-out and their causes. ESRC grant number ES/L013967/1

DEMENTIA PARTNERSHIP A five-day summer school in Rio de Janeiro aims to foster research partnerships between British and Brazilian researchers working on the theme of dementia, develop capacity in Brazil around this topic and improve the research infrastructure. Six months after the summer school, Brazilian researchers will visit the UK to develop the partnerships with UK-based researchers established during the Rio meeting. ESRC grant number ES/M011658/1

SPACE PERCEPTIONS Does human space travel have a positive impact on school students’ perception and uptake of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects? Researchers aim to assess pupils’ attitudes to STEM subjects and to space science, gather views on what influences participation in STEM subjects and provide an overview of current space science resources aimed at engaging young people in STEM subjects. ESRC grant number ES/M011879/1

New police approaches to missing people

POLICE OFFICERS HAVE new guidance on how to deal with missing people following an in-depth study of people who have chosen to disappear. More than 350,000 persons are reported missing every year. “What police officers say to people – once they are found – about being a missing person matters hugely in helping the person cope and preventing it happening again,” researcher Dr Hester Parr points out. Based on interviews with 45 people

aged between 18 and 79 who had previously chosen to go missing in the Grampian and London areas, this study is the first of its kind to provide insight into why people go missing and where that journey takes them. People go missing for a variety of reasons, researchers learned, including feeling unable to cope or trapped. Once missing, people are extremely resourceful in remaining so, Dr Parr explains. “Most do not stray away from their local area as they don’t want to become lost but many consciously avoid CCTV cameras, the police and public interaction. Remaining missing is exhausting, however, and most people are found within a week.” Once people are found, the study suggests that police and charity services need to focus more on the process of return for the missing person and how they take care of these very vulnerable people at that moment. “At present, many people don’t understand what


going missing means and don’t know whether they are committing a criminal act and could be arrested,” Dr Parr says. “If police are unsympathetic, people can be left feeling guilty and ashamed which can compound the negative feelings which made them leave home in the first place.” People use mobility in the same way that others use alcohol or drugs to escape from their problems, researchers explain. Interventions to help break this cycle and reduce the chances of a repeat event include a helpful and empathetic return interview with the police, a thorough ‘safe and well’ check to ensure the psychological welfare of the located person, and a referral to an appropriate local agency or the Missing People Charity. These recommendations have recently been included in Police Scotland’s Standard Operating Procedure and College of Policing guidelines. “Our hope is that this research will help broaden public and professional understanding of people reported as missing, lessen the stigma attached to the experience, and ensure missing people are treated empathetically and not as ‘time resource problems’,” Dr Parr concludes. n


Contact Dr Hester Parr, University of Glasgow Email Web Telephone 0141 330 5291 ESRC Grant Number RES-062-23-2492

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