Madeline McCann investigation was 'held back by competing crime agencies'

So many British agencies got involved in search it created 'frustration and resentment' among Portuguese police, report says

The competition between British police and crime agencies to be involved in the search for Madeleine McCann has hampered the investigation into her disappearance, according to the findings of an unpublished Home Office report.

The report, commissioned by the former Home Secretary Alan Johnson in 2009, though yet to be released, is thought to have resulted in British authorities re-opening the investigation into the missing toddler. According to its author, Jim Gamble, so many British agencies got involved in the search that it created “frustration and resentment” among Portuguese police, even leading to warnings that British officers were acting like a “colonial power”.

The report criticised the decision of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) to put Leicestershire Police in charge of the operation concluding that it was ill-equipped to deal with the scale of the investigation.

Mr Gamble, the former head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP), told Sky News the intervention of competing police chiefs has had a long term negative effect on the investigation. Within the first few weeks of the toddler’s disappearance in May 2007, the Portuguese were advised by the CEOP, the Metropolitan Police, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and the National Police Improvement Agency.

 

“It was unhelpful. I've no doubt relationships from the outset with the Portuguese were impacted by it and I think that had a long term negative effect on the investigation and I think to this very day the Met investigation team that's engaged now are still having to manage and massage that relationship and perhaps to be fair to the Portuguese, mend some fences that were trodden on in the early days,” he said.

Mr Gamble said that the initial Portuguese police response to Madeleine’s disappearance was “haphazard”. “There was chaos, and as it went on it was haphazard which was alien to the more structured police you would expect here in the UK. There was not a sense of order.” 

One of his recommendations was the establishment of a national centre for missing children which could combine the resources of the best experts and technology. This has not yet been set up, and Mr Gamble believes could create circumstances for a similar case to occur again.

Madeleine disappeared from her family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in the Algarve on 3 May 2007, as her parents dined at a nearby restaurant. Portuguese police reopened their investigation in October last year.

The Home Office declined to comment.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border