Freya O’Brien is a Chartered Psychologist and an internationally recognised expert in missing people research (e.g., invited to Chair 4th International Conference in Children and Adults at the University of Liverpool in 2019, member of National Police Chief’s Council’s Missing Persons Expert Reference Group, Editor for International Journal of Missing Persons).
Freya specialises in applying fundamental research (e.g., Cognitive/Social Psychology, Environmental Criminology) to applied contexts (e.g., examining factors that influence memory for missing people appeals, modelling the spatial behaviour of missing people), and increasing scientific rigour in this field (e.g., using regression analysis to examine relationships between missing persons’ spatial behaviour and their circumstances). Freya has 18 years’ experience working in partnership with regional and national law enforcement agencies and charities (including the Metropolitan Police Service, National Crime Agency, Missing People UK) to conduct research and evaluation. She has an extensive track record of to provide an evidence base for missing investigations, including examining harm prediction whilst missing, the impact of the pandemic on missing people, risk assessment, modelling spatial behaviour whilst missing, and memory for missing people appeals. Freya’s work has shaped policy and practice and she has the skills to measure impact (e.g., led evaluation of ITOK for Missing People and NSPCC Childline).
Freya has also generated income & opportunities for Early Career Researchers [e.g., Emotional expression and memorability for missing persons (BPS internship), multi-agency responses to children missing from residential care (ESRC CASE award)] and has disseminated her work to the wider community via international public engagement outlets (The Conversation) and media appearances (e.g., The ‘I’, BBC Radio Merseyside). Freya has previous PhD supervision experience and has acted as an external and internal examiner for PhDs and an external examiner for a Prof Doc.
Waring S, Monaghan P, Yates A, Girgiel N, Giles S, O'Brien F. 2022. An Independent Review of Partnership Working in Response to Missing Children in South Wales. Report produced for South Wales Police.
O'Brien F, Waring S, Giles S. 2022. An Independent Evaluation of ‘Is This OK?’ Reach, Process and Outcome. Report produced for the ‘ITOK?’ design and delivery team, Missing People, and Childline, NSPCC.
Giles S, Oh H-K, Waring S, O'Brien F. 2022. A New Missing Person Question Set Protocol for Missing Children Investigations: An Independent Pre-implementation Process Evaluation and Outcome Map.
Cathers S, Giles S, O'Brien F, Waring S. 2022. ‘Listen to Me, Talk to Me, Care About Me.’ Identifying Mechanisms for Improving Trust with Young People from Alternative Education Provisions. Report produced for Alternative Education Provisions in the North West of England.
Waring S, Fusco-Maguire A, Conway B, Bromley C, Giles S, O'Brien F. 2021. An Independent Process and Outcome Evaluation of the South Wales Police Missing Persons Team. Report produced for South Wales Police. An Independent Process and Outcome Evaluation of the South Wales Police Missing Persons Team. Report produced for South Wales Police.
Allsop C, Shalev Greene K, O'Brien F. 2020. Evidence base for review of the Missing People APP
Wake G, O'Brien F, Almond L. 2017. Predicting the future convictions of stranger rapists from crime scene behavior of an index offence.
Almond L, McManus M, Bal A, O'Brien F. 2017. Predicting the criminal record of a stranger rapist: a contemporary replication of Davies, Wittebrood & Jackson (1997)
Gerard J, O'Brien F. 2017. Comparison between juveniles and adults’ crime scene behaviour in hard-to-solve homicides
Giles S, Jarman I, Reilly D, Etchells T, Walters L, Smith A, O'Brien F, Wren C. 2014. ‘Proof of Feasibility’ studies to develop an interactive geo-spatial decision support system for police forces (CASPER)
O'Brien F. 2012. A geo-behavioural model of stranger rape: Implications for offender profiling and linking.
Alison L, Eyre M, Newman F, Schneider M. 2011. Vulnerable Localities Index: features of vulnerable localities.
Crego J, Alison L, Eyre M, Almond L, Newman F. 2008. Review of rape and serious sexual violence investigations.
Almond L, McManus M, Ward D, O'Brien F. Exploring the associations between crime features and journey to crime in stranger rape
O'Brien F, Collie C, Greene KS, Giles S. 2022. The impact of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions on missing person reports Policing and Society: an international journal of research and policy, 32 :997-1011 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url
O’Brien F, Palmer S, Blinkhorn V. 2022. Factors that predict the referral of adult Modern Day Slavery cases to the UK's National Referral Mechanism International Journal of Police Science & Management, :146135572210749-146135572210749 DOI Publisher Url Public Url
O'Brien F, Giles S, Waring S. 2021. Relationships between demographic and behavioural factors and spatial behaviour in missing persons' cases Criminology and Criminal Justice, DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url
O'Brien F, Thorley C. 2020. Memory of people from missing person posters: the number of posters seen, the number of times they are seen, and the passage of time matter PSYCHOLOGY CRIME & LAW, 27 :779-795 DOI Author Url Publisher Url
Lyons M, Houghton E, Brewer G, O'Brien F. 2020. The Dark Triad and Sexual Assertiveness Predict Sexual Coercion Differently in Men and Women Journal of Interpersonal Violence: concerned with the study and treatment of victims and perpetrators of physical and sexual violence, 37 :7-8 DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url
Stevens C, Giles S, O'Brien F. 2019. Gender Differences in the Journey to Suicide: Comparing distance decay functions of home and found locations in missing person reports to the police Journal of Search and Rescue, 3 :59-82 Publisher Url Public Url
Almond L, McManus MA, Bal A, O'Brien F, Rainbow L, Webb M. 2018. Assisting the Investigation of Stranger Rapes: Predicting the Criminal Record of U.K. Stranger Rapists From Their Crime Scene Behaviors. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, DOI Author Url Publisher Url Public Url
Waring S, Monaghan P, Yates A, Girgiel N, Giles S, O'Brien F. Examining what factors affect inter-agency working in missing child investigations. Policing (Oxford): a journal of policy and practice, DOI Publisher Url
O'Brien F, Collie C, Giles S. 2021. Lockdown 3: stricter rules could lead to more vulnerable people going missing Publisher Url
O'Brien F, Burrell A. 2020. The impact of property crimes on victims. Burrell A, Tonkin M. Property Crime Criminological and Psychological Perspectives Routledge 9781351803038
O'Brien F. 2008. Rape. Criminal Psychology Routledge
O'Brien F. A geo-behavioural model of stranger rape: Implications for offender profiling and linking Alison L, Wagstaff G.
Exploring spatial consistency in repeat missing children and adults, 5 th International Conference on Missing Children and Adults, University of South Wales, Cardiff Stadium, Oral presentation. 2023
The impact of age, type of facial expression, and continuity of expression on the memorability of missing person posters, 5 th International Conference on Missing Children and Adults, University of South Wales, Cardiff Stadium, Oral presentation. 2023
Missing Persons Research, APSS Conference, Liverpool John Moores University, Oral presentation. 2023
Expert Opinions on the Effectiveness of Risk Assessment in Missing Persons Investigations, 5th International Conference on Missing Children and Adults, University of Portsmouth, Oral presentation. 2021
Relationships Between Demographic and Behavioural Factors and Spatial Behaviour in Missing Persons Cases, 5th International Conference on Missing Children and Adults, University of Portsmouth, Oral presentation. 2021
The impact of COVID-19 lockdown restrictions on missing person reports, 5th International Conference on Children and Adults, University of Portsmouth, Oral presentation. 2021
Gender Differences in the Journey to Suicide: Comparing distance decay functions of home and found locations in missing person reports to the police, 4th International Conference on Missing Children and Adults, University of Liverpool, Oral presentation. 2019
Predicting harm in missing person cases., 4th International Conference on Missing Children and Adults, University of Liverpool, Oral presentation. 2019
Attrition of Modern Day Slavery cases, Division of Forensic Psychology conference, BPS, Liverpool, Oral presentation. 2019
Casper., Better Policing Collaborative Research Fair, University of Birmingham, UK, Oral presentation. 2014
The Geographies of Missing Persons: Using primary, applied research and secondary data analysis to develop a Google© map application to assist investigative and strategic decision making., 1st International Conference on Missing Children and Adults, University of Portsmouth, Oral presentation. 2013
Linking stranger rapes by offences by inter-crime proximity and behavioural similarity., Division of Forensic Psychology Conference, BPS, Portsmouth, Oral presentation. 2011
Exploring Geo-Demographics in Relation to Journey to Crime., Annual Meeting of the American Society of Criminology, Los Angeles, UK, Oral presentation. 2006
Exploring Geo-Demographics in Relation to Journey to Crime., 16th European Association of Psychology and Law, Oral presentation. 2006
iOPS: An Interactive Geo-Behavioural Profiling system – Description and Evaluation., National Crime Mapping Conference., UCL, UK, Oral presentation. 2006
The Main iOPS Functions., 8th International Investigative Psychology Conference, London, UK, Oral presentation. 2005
Developments in Geo-behavioural Analysis: Investigative Psychology in Action (iOPS)., AGIS/EU International Police Profiling Conference, Dublin, Eire, Oral presentation. 2005
iOPS: Outline of the Interactive Offender Profiling System., 15th European Conference on Psychology and Law., Vilnius, Lithuania, Oral presentation. 2005
External PGR examinations performed:
University of Portsmouth, PhD, Exploring The Effectiveness of Social Media Appeals in The Search for Missing Persons. 2023
Abertay University, PhD, Multiple Missing: An Exploration of Behavioural Consistency in Repeat Missing Adults. 2022
University of Huddersfield, PhD, An empirical investigation into the operational indicators of modern slavery and human trafficking. 2022
University of Huddersfield, PhD, Criminal Narrative Experience and Emotional State of Schizophrenic Offenders.. 2020
University of Portsmouth, DProf, Safe and Well? Police Voices in Managing the Return of Repeatedly Missing People in England and Wales.. 2019
University of Huddersfield, PhD, An Exploration of the Effectiveness of Missing Children Publicity Appeals.. 2019
International of Journal of Missing Persons, Editor. 2021
Other invited event:
Future directions in Investigative Psychology, National University of Public Service. Budapest, Hungary., Geographies of missing: Investigating the spatial behaviour of missing people.. 2020
Metropolitan Police Service’s Sapphire Command meeting, Metropolitan Police Service Headquarters, New Scotland Yard, Presentation of findings from PhD to Chief Superintendent in charge of and 20+ Detective Inspectors and analysts from the Metropolitan Police Service’s Sapphire Command. 2012
4th International Conference of Missing Children and Adults, Chair. 2019
Geographical Offender Profiling Workshop, Organising Committee. 2007
16th European Association of Psychology and Law, Liverpool., Organisation Committee. 2006
8th International Investigative Psychology Conference, Organising Committee. 2005
Certificate of Professional Studies in Learning and Teaching. 2015
Research Grants Awarded:
BBC Childline, Evaluation of Is This ok? Chatbot targeting children at risk of exploitation, Dr Sara Waring, Dr Susan Giles, Grant value (£): £15,600.
British Psychological Society Student Internship, Emotional expression and prospective person memory for missing person appeals., Charlotte Lord, Grant value (£): £1,260.
LJMU Quality Research Fund (Community and Impact), Exploring the response to repeat missing children in a UK Police Force., Dr Laura Pajon, Dr Laura Boulton, Grant value (£): £8,516.
LJMU Quality Research Fund, Whodunit: do detectives have the skills they need to answer that eternal question?, Dr Adrian James, Dr Laura Pajon, Grant value (£): £9,819.
Membership of professional bodies:
Chartered Psychologist, British Psychological Society.
Senior Fellow, Higher Education Academy.