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Tia: Shannon police force consulted
Police officers search through rubbish bins near Tia Sharp's grandmother's home in New Addington, London
Police from the force that investigated the kidnapping of Shannon Matthews have been consulted in the search for missing schoolgirl Tia Sharp, Scotland Yard has confirmed.
Tia, 12, has never run away before but vanished on Friday afternoon after telling relatives she was going shopping at the Whitgift Centre in Croydon, south London.
Officers from West Yorkshire Police (WYP) as well as other forces around the country have been consulted in the search for Tia, police said.
Scotland Yard said they have liaised with WYP for their expertise in missing child cases, including the disappearance of nine-year-old Shannon, who was kidnapped by her mother and her partner's uncle in February 2008.
Karen Matthews and her accomplice Michael Donovan, from Dewsbury, were convicted in December 2008 of her kidnap, which they carried out to claim £50,000 in reward money. In January 2009, Matthews and Donovan were both sentenced to eight years in jail but have since been released.
A police spokesman said: "As is routine, we liaise with all forces that have dealt with similar cases. This case, like the Shannon Matthews case, involved the search for a missing child. This is a missing persons inquiry and we are putting all of our resources into finding her. We would like to make it clear that officers who worked on a particular missing person case in West Yorkshire are not involved in the investigation to find Tia Sharp. This remains a missing person inquiry and we are keeping an open mind about the circumstances of Tia's disappearance."
Tia is thought to have been last seen at the house where her grandmother Christine Sharp, 46, lives with partner Stuart Hazell, 37, at The Lindens in New Addington, south east London. Mr Hazell, thought to be one of the last people to see Tia, was questioned by police as a witness for more than two hours on Wednesday before returning home.
On Thursday morning, police searched Tia's grandmother's bins and others around the estate, using sticks to scour through rubbish. Refuse collections in The Lindens had been suspended at the request of officers but have resumed.
Tia's mother, Natalie Sharp, 30, said she did not want to speak to reporters but her partner, David Niles, 29, who left the house briefly to buy newspapers, said Mr Hazell would be giving a statement later.
More than 80 officers have joined the hunt for Tia, while members of the local community have staged their own searches in the area where she vanished. Scotland Yard has received more than 300 calls and 60 reported sightings of Tia, including a member of the public who came forward saying they saw her leaving her grandmother's house at about noon on Friday.