Search stepped up for missing Becky


Published: Monday 2nd March 2015 by The News Editor

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The search for a 16-year-old girl who vanished from her home almost two weeks ago will intensify today.

Rebecca Watts, known as Becky, was last seen at her house in Crown Hill in St George, Bristol, on the morning of February 19.

She left home with her phone, laptop and tablet computer but did not tell friends or family where she was going, or take extra clothing.

Avon and Somerset Police have been searching for the teenager since she was reported missing by her family at 4pm on February 20.

The force is now running six specialist search teams each day, with dogs and the police helicopter assisting in the effort today.

Local parks and a nature reserve have been combed, divers have searched a lake, and three homes, including Becky’s, are being examined.

Two people arrested in connection with Becky’s disappearance remain in police custody, a force spokeswoman confirmed.

Police have intensified their search within a 2km (1.24 mile) radius of Becky’s home, with help from officers from Wiltshire, Devon and Cornwall, and Gloucestershire police forces.

Experts from the National Crime Agency, College of Policing and the National Missing Persons organisations are also involved.

Speaking at the weekend, Becky’s father Darren Galsworthy and stepmother Angie-Mae Galsworthy said they would “prepare ourselves for the worst”.

“Rebecca has still not been found,” they said in a statement issued through Avon and Somerset Police.

“We continue to hope that she will be found safe and unharmed but we will prepare ourselves for the worst.

“We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has assisted in the search for Becky and for the messages of support.

“We continue to work with the police to bring their investigation to a successful conclusion and we would like to ask members of the public to continue to report anything, however small, if they think it may help to find Becky.”

Forensics officers dressed in white protective suits and blue footwear were seen leaving the family home carrying a large barrel-shaped object.

A second address in Cotton Mill Lane, in the Barton Hill area of the city, has also been searched, along with Becky’s family home.

Hundreds of members of the public have attended searches for Becky, with one on Saturday yielding a laptop which was handed in to police.

Officers have since established that it is not related to the missing teenager.

Hundreds of leaflets have been printed and a social media campaign, using the hashtag #FindBecky, has gained thousands of hits.

More than 400,000 people have viewed tweets, with 22,000 engaging with them by retweeting, favouriting or clicking on them.

At least two million people around the world have seen a campaign on Facebook, with tens of thousands of shares including in Goa, New Zealand and America.

Facebook Ads has been used to target people in the Bristol area, reaching more than 21,000 and directing hundreds to the #FindBecky page on the force website.

Detective Inspector Richard Ocone has said: “We know that Becky is very keen on social media, as are most girls her age, and so we want our online communities to help us keep our appeal for information running.”

Becky is described as 5ft 4in and slim, with long, bright red hair, and she was wearing a dark navy blue Puffa jacket with fabric sleeves.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Avon and Somerset Police on 101, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Published: Monday 2nd March 2015 by The News Editor

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