Digital drawing of stick characters holding hands

A sea of blurred faces - how agencies can work together to save lives

I’m Paige Monaghan and I’m from Manchester. I did my undergraduate degree in English Literature, but it wasn’t until my third year, when I did a course on Trauma Literature, That I was hooked on Psychology!

The signs were there early on – I often watched crime documentaries and behaviour analysis videos! I just never thought I could turn it into a career. 

I went on to do a Masters degree in Psychology while having a full-time job because I knew it was right for me. It then landed me a four-year scholarship at Liverpool University to undertake another Masters degree in Investigative and Forensic Psychology. 

This led me to become a Behavioural and Forensic Analyst where I monitored sexual offenders’ devices online to safeguard children and adults. But it wasn’t long until I returned to research, where I am working on my PhD in Psychology with my thesis title: Multi-agency responses to Missing Children Investigations. 

The main point I want to get across here is that it is never ever too late to change your career path. At times it may seem like a huge challenge but it is achievable with the right attitude. I’ll never know how I managed to do both a full-time job as well as a Master’s degree.  

I have a small business selling bespoke handmade items and specialise in personalised coasters/name places for weddings. I also can play the flute and the piano (although have not touched it for many years due to the amount of work going on!) 

My research 

Over 350,000 reports of missing people are logged with the police every year. 61% of those reports involve children aged between 12-17. Responsibility to prevent and locate these children from going missing belongs to several agencies including, police, children’s homes, local authority, social services, charities, health, and education. However, police and partner agencies do not inherently work well together and interagency response between police and partner agencies during a missing child investigation is bounded by issues, barriers and problems. 

My research is to firstly, map what those problems are between agencies and attempt to provide better recommendations on how police and partner agencies can work better together.

When they do work well together, this reduces the number of children who are reported missing, they are located quicker when they do go missing, and subsequently provided better safeguarding resources when they return from a missing episode.

What are your next steps? 

I will soon be speaking at my first ‘Missing Person’ conference which is very exciting. I will also be finishing my literature review so I can begin my first research project. I also aim to gain more lecturing experience as it is my aspiration to be a lecturer.   

My 3-minute thesis 

3MT has taught me very valuable lesson which I will take with me both into my academic and career life and that is “to cut your darlings” – It is near impossible to sum up your PhD thesis in three minutes. This requires you to cut out pieces of work to fit it all in. We all have to do this, we’ve cut darlings to meet a deadline, to meet wordcount in assignments. In order to get through the 3MT, your PhD and life in itself – sometimes you must cut your darlings. 

I also learned the value of communicating with new audiences. It is particularly important in order to solve a complex problem; it often involves inter-agency collaboration. Each audience has an alternative perspective which can help identify novel approaches, solutions and holistic views to solve complex challenges.  

Historically, academia and practitioners such as the police, did not always develop close professional links and relationships. This provides a disservice to safeguarding children as they need all of us to work together. By engaging scientists, educators, policy makers, researchers, experts through experience and the general public, research fosters a more informed society and enables various stakeholders to benefit from the latest discoveries. 

Watch my 3MT presentation

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