Sunday 25 February 2018

Police moved swiftly to find the remains of missing student

Scottish police officers searching for student Karen Buckley in Glasgow. Photo: Getty
Scottish police officers searching for student Karen Buckley in Glasgow. Photo: Getty
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Police Scotland is to be commended for the swift manner in which it handled the investigation into the disappearance of Karen Buckley.

Although nothing can take away from the grief being experienced by the Buckley family, the speedy conclusion of the search may provide them with some small level of comfort.

Far too often, under-resourced police forces in these islands can be accused of failing to adequately deal with missing person reports.

But this accusation cannot be levelled in the Buckley case.

It is clear that a large- scale police operation swung into action almost immediately after friends of the Cork-born nurse reported her disappearance from a Glasgow nightclub in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The investigation was swift and methodical.

It also successfully utilised the media, but the information released was carefully controlled and nothing was divulged which might compromise inquiries.

Officers clearly realised straight away from talking to Karen's friends that her disappearance was out of character.

Within hours, CCTV from the nightclub was examined, indicating she had left with an unidentified man.

By 7am on Monday morning a missing person notice had been released and an appeal made for the man in the footage to come forward.

Police quickly established the identity of the man they believe she was with, but this was not disclosed until Tuesday.

The same day, her handbag was discovered in a bin a short distance from a flat where it is thought Karen might have gone after the club.

Police confirmed they had identified the man, but were careful to stress that he was not considered a suspect.

It is clear that detectives had reached a crucial juncture at this stage and knew that her body may have been moved elsewhere in the city or to a location in the surrounding countryside.

However, in the absence of information guiding them to where that might be, they played the media card.

A press conference was called, where Karen's parents made an impassioned appeal for information.

Her mother Marian begged: "She is our only daughter. We love her dearly. We just want Karen home safely. We are desperate."

Officers also sought information on the movements of a car between 11am and 3pm on Monday.

The strategy clearly worked and by the Wednesday the search for Karen had moved to farmland and other sites outside the city.

Finally, in the early hours of Thursday morning, the police confirmed they had found human remains and that a suspect was in custody.

Both developments were the culmination of excellent police work.

Irish Independent

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