Public and family support and concerns for providing DNA to law enforcement in long-term missing person cases

Kate Russell, Sally Kelty, Nathan Scudder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The identification of long-term missing persons and unidentified human remains is a global challenge. Many people stay on missing persons registers, with unidentified human remains stored for extended periods in mortuaries around the world. Research exploring public and/or family support for providing DNA in long-term missing persons cases is scarce. The aims of this study were to examine whether trust in police predicted the level of support for providing DNA and explore public/family support and concerns for providing DNA in such cases. Trust in police was measured through two widely used empirical attitude scales; “The Measures of Police Legitimacy and Procedural Justice”. Support and concerns for giving DNA were measured through four hypothetical missing persons case scenarios. The results showed more positive attitudes towards police legitimacy and procedural justice significantly predicted support, with the percentage level of positive support across the four case types as follows: cases involving a long-term missing child (89%), elderly adult with dementia (83%), young adult with a history of runaway (76%), with the lowest level of support for an adult with an estranged family (73%). Participants also reported more concerns about providing DNA when the missing person circumstances involved family estrangement. Understanding levels of public/family support and concerns around providing DNA to police in missing persons cases is vital to ensure that DNA collection practices reflect what the public/family support and, wherever possible, alleviate public concerns.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-157
Number of pages9
JournalScience and Justice
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'Public and family support and concerns for providing DNA to law enforcement in long-term missing person cases'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this