I recently learned from a trusted police source that the Metropolitan Police had officially taken up the Madeleine McCann investigation in London. This new line of enquiry is called Operation Grange.
Today I phoned the Metropolitan Police to ask about their taking over from Leicestershire Constabulary and had this interesting telephone conversation.
SM: Hello, I’d like to speak to someone in connection with Operation Grange please.
Police: I’m not aware of that Operation…just give me one second.
A minute later the operator returned and gave me another phone number to call.
SM: Hello, I’m just calling to ask a few questions about Operation Grange.
Police: What’s the name of that operation again?
SM: Operation Grange.
Police: Ok, what was that?
SM: It’s the Madeleine McCann disappearance.
Police: Oh, alright ok, fine, yeah, we don’t usually use operation names here, what do you need to know?
SM: There doesn’t seem to be anything in the public domain so when did the operation start and what’s the scope of the operation? I just wondered if you can give me some background on Operation Grange.
Police: We haven’t very much talked to the media about the case at all. What we’ve said is we’re providing expertise to the investigators of the case. The Portuguese Authorities, the Portuguese Police retain lead. We’ve not made any suggestion that they’re not capable of investigating but we are assisting them and we have not given any details on it. It’s unusual for us to do that as it’s abroad and another police force is taking the lead on it.
SM: Is there any reason why the Met took over from Leicestershire Constabulary?
Police: I’m not sure we said anything about it at the time – for various reasons. We can’t be seen to criticize any other force. On the 12th of May the Home Office requested that the Metropolitan Police service bring their expertise to the case and on that evening we said that we would.
SM: And is this a full time operation and what size team is working on it?
Police: As I said we wouldn’t provide a running commentary but at the very beginning we said there were 30 officers who would be deployed, er, not continually but various tasks along with workload they have on other cases, er, but we have deployed 30 officers.
SM: In a normal case in Britain it’s not unusual for the police to give an ongoing commentary as to how it’s progressing so what…
Police: …I’ve only worked here 11 years but I would say it’s not common. We give information whilst it’s appropriate to produce but whilst there’s an investigation going on and where it’s potentially murder, we say very little, we say very little. You read a lot in the press but that doesn’t come from us. We deal with about 250 murders a year and all of them are dealt with in exactly the same way in terms of how we deal with the media.
I also discussed the fact that all FOI requests made to Leicestershire Constabulary under Operation Task were coming back with a blanket “no comment” and a wall of silence. The police officer I spoke to at the Met told me to put in FOI requests to them and do not assume that they would treat them the same [as Leicestershire Constabulary].
For anyone wishing to put in new FOI requests under Operation Grange, email them at: SCDFOIArequests@met.pnn.police.uk
I have to say that it was reasonably reassuring to hear that the Metropolitan Police are treating the case as “potential murder” instead of the McCanns’ nonsensical talk of abduction.
It is probably premature to expect miracles but for the first time in a British Police force we can just about hear the cops singing in tune with Goncalo Amaral.