Madeleine McCann latest: Search to enter 'substantial stage'

British Police said a substantial stage of activity would being in Portugal within weeks

The search for missing British girl Madeleine McCann is heading towards “a substantial stage of activity” on the ground in Portugal, British Police have announced.

Madeleine vanished on 3 May 2007, after she disappeared from her bed in the Praia da Luz resort during a family holiday in Portugal.

British Police arrived in Portugal earlier this month to assist with the excavation of a number of sites near to where the three-year-old went missing.

Officers from the UK are currently running their own investigation into her disappearance, which was launched in July. Portuguese Police also re-opened their inquiry in October last year.  

However, police stressed that reaching this “substantial stage” did not mean a breakthrough in the case. 

"In forthcoming weeks we are going to be going to a substantial stage of operational activity on the ground in Portugal," London Police Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley told reporters.

READ MORE: MADELEINE MCCANN: THE CASE SO FAR

"I want to keep expectations down. You shouldn't read into this that this is necessarily an end game or about to be a breakthrough of anything like that.

"The activity in Portugal is led by the Portuguese, that's absolutely crystal clear in law.”

London police began a review of the case in 2011 at the instigation of the Prime Minister David Cameron following appeals from Madeleine 's parents.

The new inquiry has thrown up a number of leads and last month, British police said their officers and colleagues in Portugal were investigating a string of sexual assaults or attempted abductions involving British children between 2004 and 2010.

In March, the British team also said they were in contact with their counterparts in Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Netherlands, Germany and the Channel island of Jersey.

The upcoming activity is likely to involve searches, speaking to suspects and people of interest, and checking telephone dates and financial records.

The parents of missing Madeleine McCann have described as Kate and Gerry McCann with an age-progressed e-fit of Madeleine "When you've got a massive investigation like this where you've got multiple lines of inquiry, potentially different hypotheses as to exactly what happened, then you have to systematically work through them all," Mr Rowley said.

"If we didn't think there were any potential fruitful lines of inquiry we wouldn't be where we are today."

Mr Rowley's briefing was to appeal to the media not to interfere with the inquiry or report planned operational activities before they had been carried out.

His call comes after a letter was subsequently sent to media outlets earlier this month advising that Portuguese police did not give media updates on ongoing investigations, and “activity” would cease if British police provided any information on the continuing investigation to journalists.

Mr Rowley added: "I want to be able to go back to Kate and Gerry at some stage in the future and tell them we've got to the bottom of this, or second best is to go back to them and say we've turned over every stone and we can't get to an answer sometimes.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower