Missing schoolgirl Esme Smith found 'safe and well'

Teenager found in north London

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The Independent Online

Esme Smith, the 14-year-old schoolgirl who had been missing for more than a week, has been found "safe and well" in north London, police have said.

According to a Surrey Police spokesperson, she is currently at a nearby police station. The force also thanked the media and public for their assistance in the search, saying: "Her safe return is thought to be as a direct result of the media appeals."

Though the force haven't released exact details, they confirmed that Metropolitan Police officers were alerted to a girl matching Esme's description by a member of the public.

Esme, from Farnham, Surrey, went missing last Thursday after she didn't come home from school. She was seen on CCTV footage at London’s Waterloo station, then at a branch of McDonald’s, before being seen walking alone north-east of Covent Garden at 6.02pm.

Detectives were growing increasingly concerned for Esme, who parted from friends after school, telling them she was going to Woking, 16 miles away, and then on to a party.

Instead she changed out of her school uniform and caught a train from Aldershot just after 4pm, and arrived at London Waterloo about an hour later.

Detective Superintendent Jon Savell, head of public protection for Surrey Police, said: "We have seen huge use of social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, throughout our search and this has been really beneficial but we would now ask that these pages are taken down.

"This has been a very distressing time for Esme and her family and we would ask that that their privacy is respected."

Mr Savell said that establishing what happened to Esme was a priority.

He said: "It is unclear what has happened and where she has been, and establishing that is obviously a priority for us, as is ensuring her health and welfare, and continuing to support her family."