SPECIALIST police officers are searching through bins in the hunt for missing schoolgirl Shannon Matthews.

It is now one week since the nine-year-old schoolgirl went missing from her Dewsbury Moor home.

Up to 50 officers have been brought in to check rubbish on the route Shannon would have taken from home to school.

And police have found no evidence to indicate where Shannon is.

Chief Supt Barry South visited the scene of the extensive searches yesterday.

He said: "Over the next couple of days we’re working closely with colleagues from the local authority refuse department, targeting sites in and around the neighbourhood to make sure we have done everything we can here.

"We’re emptying the bins, checking the refuse to make sure there’s nothing there that could link us to Shannon’s whereabouts.

"Over the past week, we’ve recovered more than 500 items of property. I can say at this moment in time, we believe we’ve not found anything that links directly to Shannon.

"It is about keeping the focus and momentum going in and around the search areas, checking derelict sites and on so.

"I believe somebody out there has a vital piece of information."

Over the weekend police continued to question those closest to Shannon and were also conducting door-to-door enquiries.

Chief Supt South added: "In an inquiry of this nature, we’re going to speak with close family, close friends, anybody that might be connected with Shannon.

"I think the size of the search, the extent of what we’re doing, the resources going in - we’re not going to lose hope.

"My priority has been the same right from the very outset – we are doing our best to locate Shannon safe and well."

The specialist officers are scouring bins between Westmoor Junior School and her home on Moorside Road.

All the bins in the area had been left uncollected so officers could check the contents. It comes after police revealed they have searched more than 200 homes in the area near to where Shannon lives with her mum Karen.

But there has been no trace of Shannon despite family, friends and neighbours joining 250 police officers in the hunt.

The last confirmed sighting of Shannon was as she left Westmoor Junior School at 3.10pm last Tuesday after returning from a swimming lesson.

CCTV footage showed Shannon entering and leaving Dewsbury Sports Centre swimming pool with classmates shortly before her disappearance.

But there have been no confirmed sightings of the nine-year-old since.

Shannon had previously told school friends that she didn’t want to go home.

She had also written on her bedroom wall saying that she wanted to go and live with her father, Leon Rose who lives in Kirkburton.


Tuesday February 19: Last confirmed sighting of Shannon at 3.10pm outside Westmoor Junior School, after she returns from a swimming lesson.She is reported missing hours after failing to return home from school. West Yorkshire Police launch search.

Feb 20: Mum Karen Matthews makes a plea for her daughter to return home. Posters featuring Shannon’s picture are posted around the neighbourhood. Police say 200 officers are helping in the search and scores of local people spend a second night scouring gardens, parks and buildings.

Feb 21: Police say possible new sighting of Shannon, near her home by an adult on the morning of February 20, is "significant". Detective Superintendent Andy Brennan confirms that friends of the missing girl say she was talking about running away from home. He describes her as vulnerable and certainly not "streetwise".

Feb 22: CCTV footage shows the "timid" youngster shortly before she disappeared, entering and leaving the Dewsbury Sports Centre Swimming Pool, surrounded by a group of friends. Det Supt Brennan confirms statements made by Shannon’s natural father, who separated from her mother a number of years ago, that Shannon had written on her bedroom wall about wanting to go and live with him. Leon Rose said his daughter may have tried to get to his home in Kirkburton.

Feb 23: Neighbours gather together at the residents’ association hall near her home to support the search. Police have received more than 300 calls from members of the public and the operation has included searches of over 200 homes within a half-mile radius of Moorside Road. Officers with underwater breathing apparatus search a pond behind Dewsbury Hospital .

Feb 24: Prayers at St James Church, Heckmondwike, close to the youngster’s home. The police operation focuses on areas close to her family home and groups of officers are seen conducting house-to-house inquiries in the vicinity.

February 25: Fifty specialist police officers are drafted in to check wheeled bins on the route Shannon would have taken home from school. Detectives say they have not given up hope of finding her alive.