Active Search

When we first started to develop Locate as a way to help families in unsolved missing person cases, we worked with a small number of families willing to help us build something new. They all had one thing in common. They were all searching for a missing loved one, yet they wanted to see change for ALL families.

They were absolutely clear that in their eyes not all families are equal. Many cases that could be solved are forgotten.

They set us a challenge to find a way to help ALL families.

The UK National Crime Agency statistics for 2018/2019 recorded 4054 missing person cases in England and Wales that have remained unsolved for more than 12 months. We know there are over 1,000 people who have been found and remain unidentified. Work is progressing towards a national register of missing persons, which should be in place in 2022. Finding a way to help all families is a huge challenge, but one that we have taken on.

We know our work on individual cases is making a difference for those families we work with. Yet this is a drop in the ocean. We agreed that we needed a solution that built on the model we developed for individual cases. One that could be applied on a much broader scale.

We set about searching for ideas.

We all agreed that we wanted something beyond a static database or register.

In Canada Dr. Sasha Reid and a team of six undergraduate and graduate students compiled a serial killer database and another on missing persons and unsolved homicides. The team gathered the data through public records and media reports.  It was by connecting the dots between these databases that they were able to identify patterns and develop a profile of a serial killer in Toronto.

Thomas Hargrove is a homicide archivist. For many years he has been collecting municipal records of murders, and he now has the largest catalogue of killings in the country—751,785 murders carried out since 1976, which is roughly twenty-seven thousand more than appear in F.B.I. files at that time. Thomas was one of the founders of The Murder Accountability Project, which is a highly interdisciplinary team who collate murder data. They apply advanced analytics and build algorithms to map and connect cases to help solve murders.

We have adapted the best of these ideas and created ‘Active Search’. We combine the two databases developed by Dr. Reid and our teams are already starting to connect the dots, between missing persons, unidentified bodies, unsolved murders, and serial killers. We have adapted the approach of The Murder Accountability Project and work with leading universities to develop new analytical programmes and algorithms to help solve missing person cases. We bring open source specialists together with cold case investigators.

We want Active Search to be at the forefront of our work bringing academics and practitioners together to apply their knowledge in a way that helps communities and is fully actionable in the real world.

Get in touch and let’s see what we can do together.


We offer a free and independent review and investigation service for the families of missing people. Our team of specialists in unsolved murder and serious crime investigations apply innovative solutions to advance missing people cases.

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Active Search

Active Search collates all unsolved missing or unidentified people in the UK and Ireland. Our highly interdisciplinary team work together to ensure information is gathered, analysed and turned into action to help solve missing and unidentified people cases.

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Communities are one of the greatest assets in missing person investigations. Please send us an email if you'd like to join our teams of dedicated and talented people applying their time and skills to help police and families on unsolved missing people cases.

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We are working with the universities of South Wales and Central Lancashire, on a talent development programme. Teams of students take on real-world challenges side by side with specialists on unsolved missing people cases.

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