Regular readers of my blog will know that I live in Hanwell, West London, which for the past five weeks has been at the centre of a huge campaign to #FindAlice – a missing 14-year-old local girl called Alice Gross (pictured).

AliceGrossThank you to everyone who has got in touch since last night and who has retweeted my numerous tweets in recent weeks.

My community is numb from the news Police yesterday recovered a body from the River Brent and have now launched a murder investigation.

I blogged on 3 September about how social media was uniting my community in the hunt to find Alice, and again on 8 September about how the determination to #FindAlice was sustaining locals.

The #FindAlice and #OurCommunityCares hashtags have been used by locals across social networks to keep each other updated, appeal for information and help find Alice.

I’m writing this post because I’m being contacted by journalists, and don’t wish to speak with the media. Please direct all Press enquiries via the Metropolitan Police Press Bureau.

Having worked on the other side of the fence, I understand why you are contacting Hanwell residents, myself included, but ask you to please respect the wishes of Alice’s family and friends.

It was with a heavy heart this morning that I removed the ‘missing’ posters I spotted around while taking my daughter to nursery. Alice’s family has requested they be removed, but the yellow ribbons that are on every car, lamp-post and tree, are to be kept up for now.

Alice was last seen on CCTV walking along the towpath next to the Grand Union Canal as it passes under Trumpers Way at 4.26pm on August 28. Her disappearance sparked a huge police search – the Met’s largest since the 7/7 bombings.

Hundreds of officers from several forces around the country have been involved in the investigation, while the RAF was also drafted in to help identify new search areas. Footage from 300 CCTV cameras within a six-square-mile radius was examined, while police also staged a reconstruction of Alice’s last-known movements in a bid to jog people’s memory.

Scotland YardPolice statement from Scotland Yard
In a statement today, Metropolitan Police Commander Graham McNulty (pictured), said: “At this time my thoughts are with Alice’s family and friends. I would ask you to respect their privacy and allow them space.

“This is now a murder investigation and I need the public’s help to find whoever is responsible. I would urge anyone who may know something to come forward. Even if you have not yet spoken out it is not too late to tell us what you know.

“I would like to thank the local community of Ealing who have shown huge support and patience during the course of our investigation. This discovery will have a significant impact throughout the borough.

“You only need to walk around the surrounding streets to see the effect that Alice’s disappearance has had on the whole community.

“Our work at this scene is crucial to ensure we capture all the available evidence allowing us to identify who is responsible for this dreadful crime. This may take some time, and I ask people to remain patient with us.

“I can confirm that significant efforts were made to conceal the body. At this point I do not wish to speculate any further on what has happened.

“Finally, I would like to reiterate my request that Alice’s family and friends are given the time to come to terms with this news. My thoughts, and those of all of us in the Metropolitan Police, are with them at this difficult time.”

If anyone has any information, please contact Police on 020 8358 0100 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Local places of worship are opening their doors today for people to be able to light a candle or pray. The past five weeks have been an extraordinary time for people living in this area, but are proof that #Ourcommunitycares now more than ever.

Post author: Rachel Miller

Published 1 October 2014.

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