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The BBC's Robert Hall
"A desire to end a family's agony"
 real 28k

Wednesday, 5 July, 2000, 14:12 GMT 15:12 UK
ID parade for missing Sarah
Sarah Payne
Police have issued new pictures of Sarah
Police investigating the disappearance of schoolgirl, Sarah Payne, are staging an identity parade as part of their inquiries.

One of Sarah's brothers, Lee, 13, who was with her shortly before she disappeared last Saturday, is being asked to view the people in the line-up.

Eight-year-old Sarah went missing from fields near her grandparents home in East Preston, West Sussex.

A 40-year-old local man is still being questioned by police, while another man, in his 30s, was released on police bail earlier on Wednesday.

Sarah and Brothers and sisters
Sarah Payne, (bottom right) with brothers Lee (left), Luke and Charlotte
Police have already appealed for information about a white transit van and a grey Ford Mondeo after Lee said he had seen the vehicles in the area at the time.

Assistant Chief Constable Nigel Yeo, of Sussex Police, insists the police are still investigating a missing person, not a crime.

"It's obvious that the situation gives increasing cause for concern as the time goes on," he said.

Experts called in

The search for Sarah, involving more than 300 members of the public, police sniffer dogs and thermal imaging cameras, resumed on Wednesday after torrential rain forced volunteers home on Tuesday night.

But Mr Yeo said police efforts would focus more on information from 800 calls offering help in the case.


One of the more heartening aspects has been the tremendous response from the public

Assistant Chief Constable Nigel Yeo
He said police were working through information from members of the public and their own records - including the register of known sex offenders - in an effort to track down the youngster.

Sussex Police is liaising with the Essex and Metropolitan police forces and an expert from the National Crime Faculty has been called in to help the investigation.

Police have been guarding a shabby three-storey block of flats near the seafront at Littlehampton, West Sussex, where the man in his 40s was arrested on Sunday.

Forensic experts have been gathering evidence. It is understood the results are being fast-tracked through laboratory tests.

Senior officers are also believed to be considering holding a TV reconstruction of the young girl's disappearance - possibly on Saturday, a week after she vanished.

Search scaled down

Mr Yeo said the physical search of the area where Sarah was last seen, by her brothers and sister would soon be scaled down.

But he encouraged people in the Littlehampton and Worthing area to continue to search their holiday homes, barns and outhouses.

"One of the more heartening aspects has been the tremendous response from the public," he said.

"It has given the family strength."

Mr Yeo said he took some hope from the fact that the last time a child disappeared in Sussex, she was found four days later.


Sarah's mother has led the press appeals for her daughter's return
"It shows there will be circumstances when what seems unlikely actually happens," he said.

Detectives have until midnight on Wednesday to either charge or release the man they are questioning, or apply to a magistrate for more time to hold him.

Sarah was last seen wearing shiny black nylon shoes with Velcro fastenings and a blue Fred Perry style tennis dress. Her blonde hair is cut in a bob.

Her distraught parents, Sarah and Michael - both 31, of Surrey - have made impassioned appeals in front of TV cameras for the safe return of their daughter.

Mr Payne said the agonising wait was beginning to "hit home" to Sarah's brothers Lee, 13, Luke, 11, and six-year-old sister Charlotte.

Anyone with information about the disappearance should contact Sussex police on 0845 6070999.

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