Havering Police launched huge search for missing 14-year-old

PUBLISHED: 18:00 13 October 2012

The Met Police helicopter was called in to join the search

The Met Police helicopter was called in to join the search


»As the tragic case of missing five-year-old April Jones hit the headlines, residents closer to home held their breath as it emerged that a 14-year-old Hornchurch schoolgirl had also disappeared.

Search timeline:

12.11pm: Havering Police receive an emergency call reporting that a girl has gone missing from her Hornchurch school. Her description is circulated to all units in the borough.

12.17pm: Officers begin immediate enquiries with her school, at home and with friends and check mobile phone records.

12.35pm: A dog unit is assigned to the case, assisting searches of open areas close to where the girl was last seen.

Duty Inspector Lorraine Cowley takes immediate command of the incident and is assisted by DCI Phil Rickells as well as Supt Tony Bennett, who are based in the control room at Romford Police Station.

12.43pm: Approximately five vehicles and various Safer Neighbourhood Teams on foot and bikes are assigned to begin searches based on intelligence received.

12.45pm onwards: Police make various visits to home addresses of friends.

Early shift officers are kept on duty to assist which includes searches of open spaces, parks and woodland.

12.50pm: Essex Police are now informed and assign units to the search.

12.51pm: British Transport Police and Safer Transport Police assigned.

12.52pm: Havering Council’s CCTV centre is informed so operators can keep an eye out for the missing child.

12.53pm: Havering Council’s parks protection officers are assigned to help.

12.56pm: Havering Council traffic patrol officers have now officially joined the search and Transport for London (TfL), which manages the bus and train networks, has been informed.

1pm: The Met’s Territorial Support Group and Mounted Branch Officers are requested and a police helicopter is assigned.

1.10pm: The borough’s missing persons unit and dedicated family liaison officer are tasked to support the family along with Det Insp Ronan McManus.

2pm: Local media, including the Recorder and Time FM, are asked to help. Facebook and Twitter appeals spread the word.

2.20pm: Police begin to receive phone calls from the public stating they have seen the girl – as far away as Liverpool Street Station. All are responded to.

22.03pm: Information is received that the missing girl has made contact and is safe at an address in Billericay, Essex. She is taken home by Havering Police.

The girl, last seen wearing her uniform, was reported missing from her school on Monday, October 1, and after an intensive search operation she was located and returned to her family.

Havering Police had been so concerned for her safety that they immediately declared it a “critical incident” and launched a full-scale search.

More than 80 officers, including beat bobbies, Safer Neighbourhoods Teams, the dog squad and flying support, were drafted in.

Specialist teams

They also enlisted the help of Met specialist teams, as well as council and transport workers, before alerting the press.

Online, the missing child struck a chord with residents with more than 13,000 searching the Recorder’s website for information.

Our Tweets for information were repeatedly reTweeted and people left numerous messages of support on our home and Facebook pages for the girl and her family.

Det Ch Insp Phil Rickells said: “This incident was immediately declared a critical incident as we had real concerns for the safety of the missing child.

“A large number of police and other resources were deployed to locate the missing individual

“There were many more enquiries taking place behind the scenes which I cannot disclose or discuss for operational reasons.

“I would like to thank all of those concerned for their assistance and dedication in helping to bring this matter to a positive conclusion.”

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