Page last updated at 10:16 GMT, Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Shannon search cost police 3.2m

Police officers and dogs during the search for Shannon
All available police dog handlers were called to help the search

The 24-day search for Shannon Matthews became one of the most expensive and highest-profile missing person inquiries ever seen in the UK.

Costing 3.2m, the hunt involved more than 300 police officers and three quarters of the UK's specially-trained police dogs.

Local people, rescue workers and members of the news media joined police in the operation to find her.

Det Supt Andy Brennan, who led the investigation, said the scale of the search meant detectives working on major "live" inquiries such as murders and stranger rapes were re-deployed to help in the hunt for the youngster.

"We always hoped we would find Shannon safe and well and we hit it with everything we had got and we had to take people from live jobs," he said.

About 800 people in the area were identified as being "particularly interesting" to the inquiry, Mr Brennan told the trial of her mother Karen Matthews and Michael Donovan.

'Single purpose'

He said the inquiries relating to these people were intrusive, especially as some of them lived close to Shannon's house.

Within a half-mile radius of where Shannon was last seen, 1,800 premises were searched and extensive house-to-house inquiries were conducted at many more.

Prosecutor Julian Goose QC told Leeds Crown Court that more than 800 CCTV tapes and computer hard drives were examined and 41 other areas were searched outside the half-mile radius of Moorside Road, including operations in Cumbria and Nottinghamshire.

Officers carry out door-to-door inquiries
Some 1,800 properties were searched during the 24-day search

"All available police dog handlers, firearms officers, special constables, rescue workers and a large number of residents from the Dewsbury Moor estate were engaged in that search," he said.

"The search involved hundreds of police officers, even more members of the public and national newspaper and television publicity.

"All this was for one single purpose; to find Shannon alive and well."

Mr Brennan was asked if he had ever had any doubt this was a genuine missing person inquiry until Shannon was found.

He replied: "None at all".

"It was quite unlike anything I've been involved with."

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