Family appeal for help in finding missing 12-year-old schoolgirl


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The Independent Online

The family of a 12-year-old girl who went missing as she headed off on a shopping trip made a public appeal for help last night after examination of CCTV footage failed to uncover any sign of her.

Tia Sharp, who had not gone missing before, was last seen leaving her grandmother's home at noon on Friday after telling relatives she was going to buy some shoes at a shopping centre in nearby Croydon.

She only had a small amount of cash on her, but no travel pass, and so far no bus drivers have come forward to say the young girl was on one of the regular services between New Addington, in south east London, and Croydon. Police said last night they had received 55 unconfirmed reports of sightings.

Detective Chief Inspector Nick Scola said: "We are currently examining CCTV. At this time we have found no trace of Tia on the footage examined thus far, but this is an ongoing process which will take time. We have spoken to Tia's family and some of her friends and Tia has never gone missing before and it is extremely out of character for her not to return home or contact her friends or family."

Last night her uncle David made a public appeal at Scotland Yard for her to come home. "I just want to say to Tia, 'I just want you to come home. You're not in any trouble'."

The girl lived with her mother but often stayed with her grandmother Christine Sharp. "I was at work, but Tia was in the house with her granddad," Ms Sharp told Sky News. "He said she was going to catch the bus to go shopping in Croydon. It's a journey she's done before, but not on her own."

Friends have appealed for help on Twitter for sightings of the young girl and local businesses have printed thousands of fliers that have been posted around the area. Mr Scola said that he was particularly keen to hear from anyone in the estate in New Addington who might have seen her.

Officers were seen yesterday searching garages close to her grandmother's house. He said that Tia was not known to have a boyfriend and there were no signs she was having any trouble at secondary school.

Tia is described as white, slim build, 4ft 5in tall and wearing glasses. She was last seen wearing a yellow top, skinny grey jeans and black and pink Nike trainers.