Police Ask RAF For Help in Alice Gross Search

Viv Ellis talks to the man leading the hunt for Alice

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Police hunting missing teenager, Alice Gross, may get additional help from the RAF.

The investigation is now entering its fifth week and officers are hoping for support from the air in their bid to find any evidence which might help the inquiry.

Police have now watched more CCTV footage than they did during the London riots in 2011.

And the police officer in charge of the hunt, Detective Superintendent Carl Mehta, told me there was one particular thing - both on the CCTV and the reconstruction sequences - that he hoped people would notice. That is Alice’s walk. “She was power walking” he told me “maybe as a way to keep fit, but people might remember her long, purposeful strides – or of course it might be something they notice now.”

Looking a little weary after spending the day not only coordinating several reconstruction sequences to try to jog peoples’ memories, about the day Alice was last seen, but also conducting countless interviews from radio, TV and print journalists, Detective Mehta spent some time with me.

Police cadet Chloe 'power-walking' as Alice might have done

Given that there are around 140,000 people under the age of 18 that go missing each year, I asked him what it was about Alice’s disappearance that sparked the biggest hunt since the tube bombings of 2007. “Yes it’s true that a lot of young people go missing each year, but the vast majority of them are found, or go back home, within 48 hours. So, when that time had elapsed with Alice, and there was still no sign of her, that’s when the search was stepped up.”

It was quite common for Alice to walk down by the canal. On the day in question she walked along Uxbridge Road to Windmill Lane before accessing the towpath at Three Bridges. It would have been quicker and certainly more tranquil and relaxing, to get to the canal on the eastern side of the hospital. Were there any thoughts about that?

“Well she may have been determined to get some exercise,” said Detective Mehta, “ But also she had left home at around 1pm and her father wasn’t going to be home till 6pm so she had five hours to spend – maybe it was a way of stretching the walk”

Commenting on the posters and ribbons that were all over the bridge where we were talking, he also paid a huge tribute to the ongoing efforts of the local communities. “It’s has far exceeded anything we expected and we hope.

Next moves? There are early stage conversations taking place with the RAF to see what help they might be able to offer. But the police search carries on unabated, till Alice is found.

26th September 2014