Police are praised for large-scale operation

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POLICE officers and partners involved in an operation to find two missing girls have been praised for finding the 11-year-olds safe and sound.

An investigation was launched on Monday when the two girls, from Stowmarket, did not return from school and their parents reported them as missing.

After speaking to the girls’ parents, Suffolk Police had reason to believe the girls may have boarded a train out of the county and asked neighbouring forces and the British Transport Police to make inquiries. CCTV at Stowmarket Railway station was checked and officers searched the girls’ homes and school.

The police helicopter was scrambled to search the area along with specially trained search officers, the dog unit and search and rescue volunteers.

The press office drafted a media release to inform the public to look out for the girls, but before it was sent the girls were found outside Stowmarket by a member of public who saw the police helicopter and found some of the girls’ possessions on a footpath.

Superintendent Terry Byford, head of policing in West Suffolk, praised the operation.

“This was a large, co-ordinated effort using officers with local knowledge and specialist training, assisted by other agencies and police forces and very importantly, members of the public,” he said.

One of the girls’ parents said: “I am so grateful for everything that was done, I was overwhelmed with the resources which were put into finding my daughter.”