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The BBC's Daniela Relph
"Police believe today's visit will help the family as they cope with Sarah's absence"
 real 56k

Assistant Chief Constable Nigel Yeo
"An incredible response from the public"
 real 28k

Monday, 10 July, 2000, 02:18 GMT 03:18 UK
Sarah's family visits police
Payne family
The family thanked officers for their hard work
The brothers and sister of missing child Sarah Payne have met the police officers co-ordinating the search for her.

Accompanied by their parents, Lee, 13, Luke, 11, and six-year-old Charlotte Payne saw the incident room and were introduced to some of the 180-strong investigation team.

Sarah, 8, has been missing since 1 July after she walked from fields in East Preston, west Sussex where she had been playing with her siblings.

Helpline numbers
Sussex Police: 08456070999
National Missing Persons Helpline: 0500700700
Crimestoppers: 0800555111

As the search enters its second week, police are continuing to sift though information from over 3,000 calls from the public.

Officers believe one of the calls may have come from the owner of a silver Ford Mondeo, seen in the area at the time of the eight-year-old's disappearance.

The motorist is being urged to call police again as soon as possible. It is hoped he or she may have vital information.

Lee and Luke Payne
The boys were shown the computer system

Mrs Payne said the size of the operation had overwhelmed the family. It was important for the children to be able to see the level of the support the investigation at Littlehampton police station had been getting.

The boys were shown the computer being used to co-ordinate the hunt for their sister, while Charlotte shyly clutched a doll.

Mrs Payne told officers in the incident room: "You're doing everything we would do, that's the best compliment I can give you."

Her husband, Michael, afterwards added: "We just wanted to thank all of them."

Prayers

Earlier, prayers for Sarah were said in church services across the county.

A special service was held at St Mary the Virgin church in East Preston, close to where the schoolgirl disappeared on her way back to her grandparents' house.

The Reverend Canon Bryan Marshall told the congregation: "If we can do God's will for Sarah and her family by praying with them and for them that she will be restored to them safe and well, then the love that holds them together now will be even stronger in the future."

West Sussex Assistant Chief Constable Nigel Yeo confirmed his detectives were continuing several lines of inquiry in an effort to find the child.

Sarah Payne
Sarah has been missing for over a week

He described the response from the public as "incredible" and said the West Sussex force was getting "tremendous co-operation" from other UK police forces.

Empty properties near the eight-year-old's grandparents' home have been searched again and house-to-house inquiries have been extended.

Police have received hundreds of calls from members of the public as a result of a staged reconstruction of Sarah's last known movements on Friday.

DNA tests

Officers also set up road checks on Saturday to question motorists about the eight-year-old's disappearance.

The investigating team are awaiting the final results of DNA tests on samples taken from several addresses searched and vehicles seized during the hunt.

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

Two men arrested on Sunday and Monday last week have both been released on police bail pending further inquiries.

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