Milton Keynes police explain why Leah Croucher is NOT on the official Interpol list of missing people
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Almost three years after disappearing on her walk to work, Leah Croucher is NOT on the Interpol's powerful list of missing people, the Citizen can reveal.
And police, when asked why, said this week there was "no evidence to suggest she left the UK".
An Interpol Yellow Notice is a global police alert for a missing person and is published for victims of parental abductions, criminal abductions, kidnappings or unexplained disappearances.
It can lead to people being stopped at airports or ports or recognised all over the world.
There are currently 7,884 names on the list, including other long term missing persons such as Andrew Gosden and Georgina Gharsallah. But, significantly, Leah's name is absent.
The omission was spotted by a web sleuth on the Facebook page called Criminology Sisters. A member wrote: "I was looking through the Yellow List and some long term missing people you would think should be on there, like Leah Croucher, are not listed."
We asked Thames Valley Police for a reason. The officer leading the investigation, DCI Andy Howard told us: "Leah does not feature on the Interpol’s yellow notice list as there is no evidence to suggest that she has left the UK."
He added: "The Interpol yellow list is primarily for children or minors that are subject to reports of abduction and those who are unable to identify themselves.
"This notice would be considered for a long-term missing person where there is specific and credible information to indicate that the individual has travelled overseas, but there is no such information in Leah’s case.
"We can confirm that Leah’s details are circulated on appropriate missing persons’ databases."
Many members of the public and websleuths believe one theory could be that Leah, who was 19 at the time, was taken against her will and coerced into going into hiding - perhaps in another country. Some speculate that a sex trafficking ring may have been responsible.
Interpol's colour-coded Notices enable countries to share alerts and requests for information worldwide. The Yellow Notice can also be used to help identify a person who is unable to identify himself or herself.
Police have to request a notice and provide information on the case via the National Central Bureau. The Notice is then published by the General Secretariat in Interpol's database, which alerts police in all member countries. In 2020 alone, some 2,554 Yellow Notices were issued.
According to the Interpol website, the Notices provide "a valuable law enforcement tool that can increase the chances of a missing person being located, particularly if there is a possibility that the person might travel, or be taken, abroad."
They give high, international visibility to cases and abducted/missing persons are flagged to border officials, making travel difficult. Countries can also request and share critical information linked to the investigation.
Leah vanished inexplicably while walking from her Emerson Valley home to her work in Knowlhill on the morning of February 15 2019. So far, despite extensive investigations, appeals and a £20,000 reward, police have no clues about what happened to her.
Her bank account has never been touched and her phone has never been found after it left the network at 8.34am that morning.
Leah's parents and family are convinced she would never have disappeared voluntarily - but nobody had been formally questioned about her disappearance and nobody has been arrested.
Still classed as a missing persons case, the mystery has remained frustratingly unsolved and there has never been any evidence to upgraded it to a murder investigation.
This week DCI Howard said: "Thames Valley Police continues to investigate the disappearance of Leah Croucher on 15 February 2019.
"We would continue to ask anybody who has any information that can assist in our investigation to contact Thames Valley Police on 101, quoting reference number 43190049929 or ‘Operation Dawlish’.
"Any piece of information, no matter how small you believe this to be, may assist in the search for Leah."
People can also visit the dedicated portal for this investigation here, visit their local police station or, for total anonymity call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.