Scotland Yard detectives have admitted for the first time they might be ready to reduce their efforts in the search for Madeleine McCann.
Bernard Hogan-Howe, the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police has revealed that Scotland Yard is ready to wind down the search for Madeleine, who has been missing for over five years.
Reports over the weekend stated that Mr Hogan-Howe was looking for new commitments from UK Prime Minister David Cameron, indicating that British police could have reached the limit on how long they are willing to spend investigating the case.
“We are still reviewing a lot of material. It is a significant amount of money and we have quite a lot of officers tied up in this.
“There will be a point at which we and the Government will want to make a decision about what the likely outcome is.
“The Prime Minister agreed to fund this. We have not had any pressure to say you must stop spending more than x amount, we have received a lot of support. But by Christmas I would want a very clear view of what work is outstanding and what time line there is for that,” Mr Hogan-Howe was quoted as telling the London Evening Standard.
In April, Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood said Scotland Yard had “uncovered evidence during a review and believe Madeleine is still alive”.
The Attorney-General’s office in Lisbon has repeatedly said it would re-open the case “should new evidence emerge”, but no suggestions have emanated in the past five months suggesting a change in their view on the case.
The murder team within the Homicide and Serious Crime Command, led by Detective Chief Inspector Andy Redwood said in April that its year-long investigative review into the disappearance of Madeleine McCann had resulted in the emergence of new information.
Scotland Yard declined to disclose what evidence they had uncovered, but Redwood said he believed Madeleine had been abducted by a stranger.
The review team has cost British taxpayers in excess of £2 million and was created in the wake of calls by News Corporation titles The Sun and The Sunday Times on Prime Minister Cameron to order a review into the case – which he did soon afterwards in May 2011.
The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has in the past expressed support of the team’s creation, dubbed Operation Grange, saying detectives “are in a unique position in that their task is to compile and review material from three separate strands - the Portuguese investigation, inquiries by UK law enforcement agencies, and the work of private investigators/agencies.”
The team of officers is said to be still in the process of methodically going through material which they believe amounts to around 40,000 pieces of information equating to approximately 100,000 pages.
The intention is to identify from investigative opportunities which they have reportedly been presenting to the Portuguese authorities.
“The objective of the review team is to work with the Portuguese authorities with a view to having the case, which has remained closed since 2008, re-opened in due course”, the MPS said.
“From the outset we have approached this review with a completely open mind, placing Madeleine McCann at the heart of everything we do. We are working on the basis of two possibilities here. One is that Madeleine is still alive; and the second that she is sadly dead”, said DCI Andy Redwood.
A review team was also set up in Portugal and the task of liaising with Scotland Yard was given to a team of detectives from the Polícia Judiciária (PJ) in Oporto.
The team of detectives is under the guidance of Helena Monteiro and it is believed they only started their review in February of this year.
The case was formally shelved in July 2008 by the Attorney-General’s office.
Madeleine McCann disappeared from Praia da Luz on 3 May 2007 from an apartment where she was sleeping with her younger twin brother and sister while her parents dined at a nearby restaurant.