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Statement on the Leah Croucher murder investigation

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Matthew Barber, Police and Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley:

“The disappearance of Leah Croucher back in 2019 has hung over the community of Milton Keynes. Hundreds of Thames Valley Police Officers have supported the search for Leah, conducting thousands of house to house enquiries, reviewing many hundreds of hours of CCTV footage. 

“The news that the investigation has moved from a missing persons enquiry to a murder investigation following the discovery of human remains will be the most bitter blow to Leah’s family and will be felt across the city. 

“Given the time that has passed questions have inevitably been raised about the earlier investigation and there is an understandable desire for more information. I have been briefed on developments throughout the week and have naturally discussed the case at length with the Chief Constable. None of the information I have received so far leads me to conclude that there were shortcomings in the earlier missing persons investigation. Nevertheless I have requested that the Chief Constable presents me with a review of the case in order to determine if any further inquiry is required. When the investigation changed from a missing person’s inquiry to a murder inquiry, the head of the Major Crime Unit was appointed as the senior investigating officer with Head of Crime, Detective Chief Superintendent Ian Hunter, having strategic oversight. If mistakes have been made I will ensure a thorough review of the missing persons investigation, but I must stress that this will be evidence-led and so far I have seen nothing to suggest any reasonable lines of enquiry were missed.

“Of course the priority remains the murder investigation and whilst the family are being kept fully informed I will not comment further on the details of the case. 

“Over the last three years officers from across the Force have been involved in search for Leah. The police and communities across Thames Valley have all been saddened by this week’s discovery. Leah’s family have spoken on their thanks to the police and my thoughts are with Leah’s family as they come to terms with this heartbreaking news”.