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Police responses to missing persons; Search & rescue teams; Evidence-based policing; 

Policy studies; Qualitative research


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Vanier Scholar Lorna Ferguson is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Western Ontario. She is the Founder of the Missing Persons Research Hub and is an Independent Research Consultant, focusing on policing, evidence-based policing, missing persons, qualitative research, and program evaluation. She has worked in several research positions on different topics with researchers from Canada, the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Lorna received her M.A. in Sociology and B.A. Honour Specialization in Criminology from the University of Western Ontario. Previously, Lorna was the Director of Operations for the Canadian Society of Evidence-Based Policing but stepped away from that role to develop the Missing Persons Research Hub. She also formerly worked for the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) in Parole and Community Corrections. 

Lorna is an award-winning criminology scholar who has dedicated over nine years to studying crime and criminal justice and working in this field. Overall, her research interests pertain to the sociology of work with respect to policing and developing evidence-based approaches to policing and crime prevention, including the study of issues related to firearms, crime concentration, police data, cybercrime, persons with mental illness, and police reform. Her specialization is police responses to missing person cases. This research aims to fill in knowledge gaps on the police role and function and, generally, police work in this area. It focuses on investigating 'what works,' 'what doesn't work,' and 'what we still don't know' in terms of most effectively and efficiently searching for and investigating missing persons. She has educated, trained, and partnered with over forty police services and several individual police officers to enhance police practices and policies and police officer knowledge on missing persons. With her research, outreach, and the Missing Persons Research Hub, her ultimate goals are to improve scholarship in this area and contribute to preventing and reducing missingness.


Lorna's research has been published in peer-reviewed journals in her field and has been the subject of many local, national, and international presentations. Her most recent research has appeared in Criminology & Criminal Justice, Crime and Delinquency, Policing & Society, Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice, Policing: An International Journal, and Deviant Behavior. She has written two books, The Wicked Problems of Police Reform in Canada with Routledge, and Police Search and Rescue Response to Lost and Missing Persons in Canada, under contract with Springer. You will find Lorna engaging in science communication, knowledge translation, and public engagement related to her work and research through various means, including the CrimRxiv open-access criminology article sharing site, research blogs like #CrimComm, media talks and op-eds such as The Conversation, podcasts like NIRO Knowledge, and many others. As evidenced, open and accessible science are critical components of her research programme.


Check out her Google Scholar profile here.

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