Wales

April Jones abduction: Child got into van willingly say police

  • 2 October 2012
  • From the section Wales

Police investigating the abduction of a five-year-old girl from her street in mid Wales, have given more details of the van she was seen getting into.

April Jones was with friends near her Machynlleth home when she got willingly into a van at 19:00 BST on Monday.

Hundreds of people have joined the search for April who was wearing a purple coat with a fur hood, white polo top and black trousers.

A hotline number has been set up - 0300 2000 333.

April was last seen wearing this purple knee-length coat

In the latest developments, a 12 mile stretch of the A487 from Machynlleth to Cross Foxes near Dolgellau has been closed in both directions due to a "police incident".

Earlier speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, Det Supt Reg Bevan said they had gleaned more information from children who had been playing with April shortly before she went missing.

"Speaking with them is a delicate and time consuming process," he said.

Det Supt Bevan said the children had told police the vehicle involved looked like a van.

"They describe it as small at the front and large at the back, so it could be interpreted that this could be something similar to a Ford Connect type van or a Land Rover.

"Furthermore April has been described as getting into the driver's side of the vehicle. This may be because she got in with the driver or that it is left hand drive vehicle.

"We still believe that the van is grey or light coloured, but again these things can be affected by failing light and street lamps.

"The indications are that she got into the vehicle willingly... There's nothing to suggest at this stage there was a struggle."

Det Supt Bevan added that police were concentrating efforts in the immediate vicinity following specialist advice.

He said police had a significant number of pieces of information.

This included an initial description of the driver but detectives were not comfortable releasing more details at this stage.

When asked about April's family, Det Supt Bevan said "as you would imagine, it must be their worst nightmare so it must be a very difficult time for them".

'Not ruling anything out'

He said the force were getting help from neighbouring Welsh forces, and some English in relation to the Child Rescue Alert system (CRA).

The CRA brings together the forces of police, media and the public to help find abducted children by publishing details as soon as possible.

The South Wales Police and Gwent Police helicopters are also helping in the search.

April disappeared close to her home on the Bryn Y Gog estate in Machynlleth.

Road blocks have been set up as officers and hundreds of local people continue conducting searches of the local area, woodland and isolated farmland.

Police helicopters, the fire service and police dog teams have been mobilised. Refuse collections in the area have been suspended on Tuesday as council workers re-deploy to help the search.

Bus companies have also been ferrying groups of people around the large, rural area to widen the search.

Meanwhile, detectives are due to re-interview the children who had been playing with April on the Bryn-y-Gog estate last night.

Supt Ian John said: "At this moment in time we're still interviewing young witnesses and... we believe April got into the vehicle without any sort of struggle."

Asked whether this suggested she may have known the driver, he replied: "We're keeping our minds' open at this moment in time. We're not ruling anything out, we're not ruling anything in."

Police have praised the "tremendous response" from the community.

Hundreds of people have been gathering at the local leisure centre to help with the search.

Alun Hughes, a friend of April's family said: "We were out last night and at the moment we are waiting for the police to organise specialist searches of the town."

Search volunteer Anwen Morris said locals had searched an area with a 30-mile radius using quad bikes and off-road vehicles.

Mayor of Machynlleth Gareth Jones said people had travelled from outside of the area to help.

"We live in hope.," he said. "I want to appeal to people out there who may have seen something, even if they thought it's not of very much importance, to come forward and tell police."

A cordon remained in place near the family home on Tuesday

Powys County Council said it was providing support for pupils and staff at April's school - Ysgol Gynradd Machynlleth.

Brian Vaughn, whose daughter goes to school with April, described her as a "lovely little girl". He said: "Everybody just wants her back, really.

"Whatever we've got to do, we'll do it. We're just hoping for the best, that she's closer rather than further away."

Neighbour Rhydian Mason said: "It's completely heartbreaking. I'm trying to put myself in the shoes of April's parents and it's an awful feeling in the pit of the stomach.

Shadow Welsh Secretary, Owen Smith MP, told the Labour conference in Manchester that the thoughts and prayers of all delegates are with the missing girl and her family.

"We all pray she's back in her community and with her family as soon as humanly possible," he added.

At first minister's questions in the Welsh assembly, party leaders said their thoughts were with those searching for the five-year-old.

Meanwhile, Montgomeryshire MP Glyn Davies was in Machynlleth to offer his support.

He said: "I'm stunned by the way everybody in the town has come together, but I suppose I'm not really surprised because it's a small town and everybody feels the anxiety of what has happened. I have a mixture of concern and hope."

According to Home Office figures there were 532 child abductions in England and Wales between 2011 and 2012.

About 500 children under 16 are abducted each year - but the majority of these are parental abductions, according to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop).

Dyfed-Powys Police have asked anyone with information to contact a dedicated hotline on 0300 2000 333.

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