Criminology students will work with experts to review files and search for new evidence alongside investigation experts and families of the missing people.
The innovative programme will be investigating seven long-term unidentified bodies in partnership with Locate International, a community interest group “dedicated to helping families of unresolved missing person cases find their loved ones”.
The initial team are students studying Criminology at GCU, but 15 other UK universities are involved in the project, adding policing, forensic science, and journalism expertise.
One of the team’s cases concerns a woman who was found washed up on a beach in Port Logan in 2006.
Some of these cases are decades old, and have caused families a huge amount of distress
– Dr Maureen Taylor, a lecturer in Criminology
Although there is no suspected criminality in this case, they still aim to find explanations through information from shipping, boat and plane accidents, and drift trajectories of the surrounding land.
The unit has already used facial reconstruction technology in consultation with Police Scotland. Their new appeal received many positive responses.
Dr Maureen Taylor, lecturer in Criminology, former forensic investigator, and director of the GCU Cold Case Unit, stated: “Some of these cases are decades old, and have caused families a huge amount of distress.
“Working with Locate International and developing the cold case unit is a unique collaboration that offers the opportunity to not only give hope to the families of missing loved ones, but to develop novel solutions to cold case investigations and analytical capabilities.
She added: “It is a very exciting project that will help to not only develop future investigators, but also bring answers to the families of the missing.”
Dave Grimstead, the co-founder of Locate International, said: “It is a real privilege for us to collaborate with Glasgow Caledonian University.
“The students will develop their interdisciplinary and leadership skills in a practical way, providing a service for the families of the missing and progressing cases that might not otherwise get the focused attention that they deserve.”