The search for April Jones in numbers: seven months, 23 square miles, 150 officers

 

The ultimately fruitless search for five-year-old April Jones began as a frantic race against time to find her alive and well.

As the hours turned to days and early optimism evaporated, the focus switched to the bleak reality of recovering her body.

In those early days no one imagined they were involved in the biggest search in British policing history - with a budget to match.

Official estimates have put the bill for searching for the missing schoolgirl at £2.4 million.

Running, as it ultimately did, from October 1 2012 to April 19 2013, the search took in tens of thousands of man hours and a mountain of resources.

From the outset, the search for April was a large-scale operation with dozens of professionals and hundreds of volunteers.

Once all hope of finding her alive receded, the eager though amateur volunteer efforts were no longer appropriate.

Then the meticulous professional task of combing the rugged countryside around Machynlleth began in earnest.

Detectives identified more than 650 individual search areas, taking in more than 23 square miles of terrain.

A total of 150 officers worked together each day, regularly starting at 8am and carrying on until it was too dark to continue.

Dyfed Powys police had 23 members of staff working in the Holmes major incident room at the height of the investigation.

The Home Office Large Major Enquiry System (Holmes) is an IT network used to investigate serial killings and major crimes.

The system carefully sifts a mass of information as it comes in and ensures that vital clues are not overlooked.

It is designed to be completely compatible and consistent across all police forces in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

In addition to high tech IT, Dyfed Powys received support from more than 45 forces across the UK for searching and investigating.

The search operation eventually concluded on April 19 after running, with very few breaks, for almost seven months.

On average, 16 search teams consisting of six officers and one leader have been out scouring the countryside around Machynlleth every day.

Backing them up have been six police search advisors (POLSA) and a team of 10 highly-trained police dogs.

Up to 100 mountain rescuers have taken part in the operation over its duration, climbing rugged and potentially dangerous terrain.

The Dyfed Powys Police marine unit has led river and sea search efforts, aided by a team of kayakers and two RNLI vessels.

During the inquiry, launched in parallel with the search, police received 4,744 individual calls and messages from the public.

Officers conducting house-to-house inquiries visited 700 properties in and around the west Wales market town.

From the calls, messages and conversations received, 2,159 actions were identified for officers to follow up.

During the investigation, 1,018 written statements were taken and 2,918 exhibits were seized.

Twitter followers of the Dyfed Powys Police feed increased from 2,400 in the last week of last September to more than 12,500 in the first week of October.

Over the same period, visits to the police website rose from 18,455 unique visits to almost 100,000.

PA

Further reading:

Mark Bridger found guilty of murder and abduction of April Jones

Profile: Mark Bridger was an alcoholic paedophile who lived out sexual fantasies on the internet

Bridger's cottage should 'no longer exist', say April Jones' parents

April had a 'tantrum' so she could play out with friends on the night of her abduction

Mark Bridger watched brutal rape film before murdering April

Psychologist: 'Mark Bridger could take years to reveal what happened to April Jones'

Search for April Jones' remains will continue if Mark Bridger gives up information

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits