Incident 62/2008

At 02:17 this morning the team was paged by the GMP Force Control Room Manager regarding the team’s assistance with a report of a young child being dragged into local countryside in the Woodlands area of Flixton, Greater Manchester.

Our Team Leader was requested to contact a Greater Manchester Police Missing Persons Search Manager who was also responding to this developing urgent search operation.

Initial team standby pager calls, whilst our Team leader and Deputy Leader discussed tactics with the Police resulted in a full team pager callout at 03:12. By this time, vehicle drivers had already been arranged and some members even at this early hour in the morning, were on standby at our Ladybridge Hall base.

22 team members responded between 03:30 and circa 04:15 to the Lansdowne Road/Coniston Road search RVP.

It transpired that a group of 4 teenagers had together seen a male adult apparently dragging a young child into countryside, in the Jack Lane Hill area of Flixton.

This gave the Police cause for concern given the time of this observation at around 22:25 on the night previous (Tuesday 27th May). The validity of this combined sighting gave cause for the Police to launch an initial search with their own officers and the Greater Manchester Police Air Support Unit helicopter, leading to our involvement and that of the Missing Persons Search Manager as the evening progressed into the morning of Wednesday 28th May.

Bolton MRT search parties, in association with a GMP general purpose dog unit, searched an area bounded by the River Mersey and the main railway line, commencing at 04:50, finishing at 06:00.

During this search the weather turned from mild weather to torrential rain, and given the completely overgrown nature of the search area (bramble, long grass, and reeds) made searching very difficult.

The very wet weather conditions at this early morning search…

Certain small items and disturbed areas of ground were logged and plotted (ultimately unrelated to this enquiry).

With the onset of daylight and with nobody reported missing, or any other related reports received by the Police, it could only be concluded that the 4 teenagers involved had made a false alarm call, with good intent. The four teenagers are to be applauded for their actions as the outcome of this could have been so different and their early call to the Police in different circumstances could have proven essential.

In continuing very heavy torrential rain, team members wearily left the control point to try and catch the remnants of sleep before commencing their day’s work.

Police enquiries during the day revealed no more to this case, with 23 of our team members attending our Ladybridge Hall base on the evening of Wednesday 28th May to clean up and dry out vehicles, equipment and our control trailer utilised in this search.

Alongside our members, the Police also involved all their divisional Police resources to this search.