Madeleine McCann is still in the Algarve, claims mum
Kate McCann convinced daughter's abducter did not take her 'a million miles' from family's holiday apartment in Praia da Luz in Portugal in May 2007
Published 15/02/2016 | 09:20
Kate McCann has said she believes her daughter Madeleine is still in the Algarve because her kidnapper did not take her "a million miles" from their holiday apartment.
In the almost nine years since the three-year-old disappeared from Praia da Luz, there have been thousands of alleged "sightings" of her worldwide amid theories that could have been taken out of Portugal to be sold to a childless couple or criminal gang.
However, her mother has said she believes Madeleine most likely never left the country and that the holiday resort is the place where she "feels closest" to her.
Mrs McCann, of Rothley, Leicestershire, vowed she and her husband Gerry would "never give up" hope of finding their daughter after she vanished shortly before her fourth birthday in May 2007.
The 47-year-old, who is an ambassador for charity Missing People, said her research had led her to believe abducted children were not usually taken far from the scene.
"That's where she last was and I don't think she's been taken a million miles from there", Mrs McCann told The Sun.
"I've always said Praia da Luz is the place where I feel closest to her. It's all only speculation, but we've learned that's usually the case."
Mrs McCann said the urge to look for Madeleine - whose 13th birthday is in May - "absolutely hasn't changed at all".
"You hear all the time about people who have been missing for years being found," she added. "There have been so many cases like that.
"We will never give up. You couldn't settle if you thought about giving up. I want an end, an answer. Whatever that it is."
She is leading a two-week appeal in a bid to get a million people in the UK to register for Child Rescue Alerts.
The free scheme - funded by The Royal Mail - sends early warning messages to mobiles, computers and tablets when a child goes missing.
Mrs McCann said that the alert system, which she helped launch, could have "mobilised" people at the time of Madeleine's disappearance.
Since 2011, the Metropolitan Police have been assisting in the search for clues as to what happened to the youngster, with officers visiting the holiday resort in 2014.
The McCanns had previously praised the "meticulous and painstaking work" of detectives and have again offered thanks to the police.
However, last year the number of officers working on the case was reduced.
Operation Grange, which was launched in 2011, will continue but will have the number of full time officers working on the case reduced from 29 to just four.
Detectives have taken 1,338 statements and collected 1,027 exhibits, but a Scotland Yard spokesman said: “While there remain lines of inquiry to follow, the vast majority of the work by Operation Grange has been completed.”
During Operation Grange, detectives from the Met regularly travelled to the Algarve to liaise with their Portuguese counterparts and undertook a number of exploratory digs in the Praia da Luz area.
Police said they had also investigated more than 60 persons of interest.
A total of 650 sex offenders have also been considered as well as reports of 8,685 potential sightings of Madeleine around the world.
In 2013, detectives working on Operation Grange announced they were looking into possible links between Madeleine’s disappearance and bogus charity collectors who were knocking on doors in Praia da Luz at the time.
They issued a series of photo-fit images of suspects they said may have been hanging around the Algarve around the time Madeleine disappeared.
The decision to reduce the number of Met Police officers working on the case came after the Home Office granted another £2 million in order to continue with the investigation until April.
The cost of the investigation so far has been estimated at in excess of £10 million.