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Lessons have not been learned from Madeleine McCann case: Ex-police chief

By Allan Preston

Ten years after the disappearance of Madeleine McCann, a former senior police officer from Northern Ireland has said that lessons learned from her case have been forgotten.

The young girl from Leicestershire was three when she went missing while on holiday with her family in Praia da Luz in Portugal on May 3, 2007. Despite a massive police and media campaign to locate her, she has never been found.

At the time of her disappearance, Jim Gamble was the head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Agency (CEOP).

In 2010, Mr Gamble was asked to compile a report into the effectiveness of the original police investigation.

"I highlighted lessons that needed to be learned such as critical mistakes made by the Portuguese police during the so-called golden hour (the first 60 minutes after someone goes missing), failing to secure the scene and evidence or data on mobile phone use in the area at the time," he said.

"The chaotic nature of that approach meant investigative opportunities were lost. At the time, there was a difficult relationship between the Portuguese and UK police who were trying to lend their assistance.

"That never really gelled. The Portuguese police resented the investigation by the UK police and, to be fair, the UK's approach wasn't very sensitive to the local customs either."

Asked if a better system was now in place for similar cases, he said: "No, I think all you have to do is to ask your readers as to whether they'd feel confident about who to call in such a case.

"There should be a national command centre where parents can phone up and get immediate help and resources deployed."

Speaking to the BBC ahead of the anniversary of their daughter's disappearance, Kate and Gerry McCann vowed to do "whatever it takes for as long as it takes" to find her.

Mrs McCann said the anniversary was a "horrible marker of time, stolen time" but that she was heartened by "real progress" made in the last five years.

Last week, Scotland Yard confirmed officers were still pursuing "critical" leads in the case.

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