North Yorkshire Police have expressed their ‘disappointment’ at criticism of the force by the mother of Claudia Lawrence – and say they have made ‘several attempts at engagement’ with the missing chef’s family.
The force has issued a lengthy response following Joan Lawrence’s allegation that “the police do absolutely nothing”.
Mrs Lawrence told the Yorkshire Post: “I don’t want to be doing these interviews but if I don’t Claudia will be completely forgotten by the police.
“It’s been 14 years and they don’t seem to follow up on any new information. People contact me now instead of the police because they don’t trust them.”
In August 2021, North Yorkshire Police searched Sand Hutton gravel pits as part of their investigation into the disappearance of Claudia.
Mrs Lawrence, 79, said: “The police do absolutely nothing. I only found out about a search they were doing involving sixty or seventy police officers after it was reported in the media.”
She added that she wanted to talk to North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner Zoë Metcalfe “because there needs to be changes at the top”.
‘She was informed’
Today North Yorkshire Police issued a lengthy statement.
“It is disappointing to North Yorkshire Police that Mrs Lawrence feels such dissatisfaction,” it begins.
The force says that, although the investigation into the disappearance and suspected murder of Claudia was scaled back to a reactive status in 2017, “the inquiry continues to benefit from information shared by the public.
“It is our hope that Mrs Lawrence, and the wider communities of York and North Yorkshire, recognise that the Senior Investigating Officer and the Major Investigation Team take seriously all such information.”
On the Sand Hutton gravel pits search, the police said today: “This renewed activity stemmed from the receipt of fresh intelligence and North Yorkshire Police can confirm that Mrs Lawrence was informed, in person, about the searches.
“This was in advance of the media, or indeed the wider communities of York and North Yorkshire, becoming aware of the activity.”
Clearly exasperated by Mrs Lawrence’s comments, the police statement continues: “Several attempts at engagement have taken place since the conclusion of the enhanced investigative activity in November 2021, some as recently as March 2023, to ensure that Claudia’s family have access to any continued support which may be required.
“North Yorkshire Police has consistently strived to maintain a professional and respectful relationship with Claudia’s family and this approach will continue.”
The statement addressed again the links being drawn between convicted serial killer Christopher Halliwell and the Claudia case.
“The ‘new’ witness referenced within that speculation had, some years ago, been interviewed at length by officers from the Major Investigation Team,” police said.
Claudia, a University of York chef, vanished in March 2009. North Yorkshire Police today reiterated their request for anyone with new information to get in touch.
“With this in mind, we very much hope to remain engaged with Claudia’s family to keep them informed about the investigation and to provide them with any support they may require going forward,” their statement concluded.
You can call 101 to report information, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online, and quote “Claudia Lawrence” when providing details.
Read the North Yorkshire Police’s full statement here.