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Gerry: We were expecting a Metropolitan type response and I remember saying to the officers “where’s the helicopters? I want helicopters with heat seeking equipment.” And ye know the officer kind of laughed at us and said “you know this isn’t you know we don’t have a Royal Navy” and this thing... and you just... and I’m sure every single parent can understand this because everyone has lost a child momentarily and the terror and how frightening it is, be it in a supermarket or a playground or a park, and you just want everything done and you want... you want the world to stop, and, and scream, and the response ye know was slow. And that’s been one of the hardest things for us, because ye know, Madeleine could have been moved very easily and the Spanish border is only about 90 minutes away and obviously you are on the Mediterranean, and one of the aspects of why we are campaigning internationally is because she could have been taken anywhere. in The McCann's Stockholm Interview
Summarising the diligences that are reported in the process and that were carried out or coordinated by the PJ, the following should be mentioned:
- de factum preservation of the location (despite the fact that it had already been rummaged by countless persons), several collections and exams on the existence of possible residues, as well as a circumstantiated photographic report;
- installation, within the first 24 hours, of an extensive operational scheme, including the participation of several police forces and civil protection services, in a total of over 130 elements;
- reinforcement, within the next 24 hours, of said operational scheme, with the mobilization of over 300 elements from police forces and public entities;
- the operational mechanism that was implemented on the terrain included, among others, and as soon as possible, the installation of posts to control the roads and the southern terrestrial frontier with Spain, the usage of canine detection teams, the usage of exceptional search and rescue means – aerial, terrestrial and maritime -, alerts and broadcasts all over the country and abroad. Just as an example, it is mentioned that during the following weeks and in permanence, two helicopters, four ships and several off-road vehicles were used, apart from air-planes and private ships;
- in the same manner, the investigative operations were coordinated with the specific search operations, and hundreds of diligences were carried out, like the identification and hearing – both formally and informally – of citizens, the execution of door-to-door searches in the residences and tourist resorts of Vila da Luz and surrounding areas, the identification and search of vehicles, and searches on the terrain, in an area that was initially of 15 square kilometres, and then was progressively enlarged until 30 square kilometres (where special attention was given to locations like wells, passages, tunnels, dams and lakes);
The magnitude of this operation exceeded, right from the first moment, the dimension that is commonly used in similar cases, a fact that was made public, having been notoriously and widely publicized by the media.
On the following days, over 700 persons that might possess any relevant information about the disappearance were formally and informally questioned, the PJ having used, for that task, over 100 employees from several departments in Portimão, Faro and Lisbon, which worked on a consecutive basis of 24 hours per day.
Equally, all the locations where images that could be related to the case might exist, were consulted (like, for example, restaurants and petrol stations) and telephone lines from the permanent services of the departments in Faro and Portimão were made available, and a mobile police post was installed in Vila da Luz for the collection of information.
Beyond the already mentioned identifications and domiciliary door-to-door searches, the identification, contact and interview with known suspects in the area that had previously been connected to sexual criminality over minors was carried out.
Also, regarding the missing child’s parents, the PJ was careful to schedule periodic meetings with them and to designate an Official Liaison to the family as support for a permanent relationship, with the accompaniment and active collaboration of the Royal British Consulate in Portimão.
Shortly after the beginning of the investigation, continuous relationships were created with the Leicestershire Constabulary which sent, in support, various of their members to Portugal, having, equally, the PJ sending employees to the UK.
It is emphasized, specifically, that the level of cooperation and of understanding between the PJ and the Leicestershire Constabulary achieved, always, very high levels, united in the common pursuit of the missing child and the truth.
As such, the Portuguese authorities engaged an enormous and expensive panoply of technical and human resources, in the attempt to discover the missing child and the understanding of the explanation of the disappearance.
The PJ never disregarded any information or credible elements – as will be seen in this criminal process – that could have led to the realization of the disappearance, and there have been completed, during these months, more than 2000 diligences, formal and informal, in this regard.
As an example, we refer to the international cooperation, especially with Spain, the Netherlands and the UK which led to the detention and identification of individuals who tried to introduce deceptive information about the hypothetical destination or location of the child.
All of the information with any major or minor level of credibility was explored, nationally and internationally, by the PJ, with special relevance given to dozens of supposed sightings or localizations of the child, most of which, in fact, were widely publicized in the press.
The PJ, as in probably no other investigation in Portugal, withheld no effort, in the sense of providing exceptional technical means, manpower and financing towards the discovery of the child and the determination of the truth of the facts, having been completely accompanied in this effort by the Leicestershire Constabulary, the police department head-quartered in the city of Leicestershire, from where most of the elements of the holiday group are from.
As another example, just the scientific exams alone cost many tens of thousands of euros.
in Polícia Judiciária Final Report, Process pages 4577 to 4581