Aaliyah Chen: police have found missing girl, family says

Police searching for missing teenager Aaliyah Chen have found her in a south London nature reserve, her family have said.

Aaliyah, 15, sneaked out of a window of her family home in Sidcup, south London, on Sunday evening and had been missing since.

Police had said she was believed to be with an older man, aged 24.

Her aunt Laura Rushe said the family were relieved Aaliyah had been found: “It is amazing news, we are all so relieved. After four days [missing] you do get worried.”

The girl’s family claim police missed the chance to intercept the pair just hours after Aaliyah ran away. They also say police initially misclassified the case as medium risk. The Met then said it was being treated as high risk.

Her family had accused police of bungling the search for her.

Rushe said: “The first 36 hours felt like they were wasted. Information we provided was not given to the search team.”

On Saturday, the day before the 15-year-old ran away, her mother discovered a diary in her bedroom, the family said. It showed she had made plans for running away with him. She wrote she would starve herself so she would get used to being hungry when she flees home.

Aaliyah had last been seen at home at 9.30pm and by 12.55am is believed to have been on a 51 bus travelling across south London. Her family later discovered her missing and called the police.

The family allege officers said they would visit addresses linked to the older man at approximately 7.30am on the Monday. At 3pm the same day, when they checked with police, the family claim they were told this had not happened.

Aaliyah was believed to have been at the address in Brixton linked to the man at 8am on the Monday morning. “If they had gone when they were supposed to they may have got them,” Rushe said.

The family said they had to lobby a senior officer in person that evening to have the case upgraded from medium risk to high risk.

Rushe said different officers did not know what evidence and information others had. “Their coordination is appalling, one team did not know the other team had the diaries,” she added. “We have told the Met we will put an official complaint in.”

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