On the eve of the anniversary of the disappearance of South Yorkshire toddler Ben Needham, the detective leading the investigation has said his team are exploring a number of fresh lines of inquiry.
Ben disappeared on July 24, 1991 while on holiday on the Greek island of Kos, while he was with his mother, Kerry Needham and grandparents.
Previous attempts to find out what happened to the toddler have failed but after the Home Office granted £700,000 of new funding earlier this year, the case was re-opened and a seven-strong team of detectives are working on it.
In May, Ben’s mother took part in a TV appeal in Greece, which was watched by 60 per cent of the population.
South Yorkshire Police Detective Inspector Jon Cousins told the Yorkshire Post that since that appeal, they were “receiving fresh information on a daily basis.”
He added: “We are not marking the anniversary other than to say it highlights the importance of what we are doing. It’s 24 years since he went missing, the main thing for me is what his family is going through. I don’t think you ever get over something like that, where there are so many unanswered questions.
“At the moment, there is fresh information coming in every day and there are a number of things we need to look at in more detail. Someone out there knows what happened to Ben, someone has the answers and someone knows what’s happened to him since. It’s important for us to try and find those answers.
“The TV programme generated a lot of interest in Greece about this. There are a number of new lines of inquiry.”
Det Insp Cousins said he and a team of seven detectives were working on nothing else. He also said he was already considering applying for additional funding to continue the investigation beyond March 2016, which is when the current round runs out.
“The funding we have is until March 2016 but I am already considering asking for that to be extended beyond that time.
“What you find is that when you open one door, there are several others, so that’s a conversation I will be having further down the line.”
He added that, while his officers were working solely on the case, it was Greek officials who still had ‘primacy’ in terms of leading the investigation, but added: “It’s what we can bring to the investigation in terms of our experience and some of the techniques we use.”
Officers from South Yorkshire recently travelled to Kos to carry out further investigations and interviews, although at the time that trip was said to have generated no new leads.
The youngster was just 21 months old when he disappeared. Despite a succession of appeals over the years, there has been no trace of the youngster but efforts were stepped up to try to discover what has happened to him and police were given an extra funding to pursue new leads.
Mrs Needham and other members of her family took part in a three-hour edition of Greece’s missing person TV show Light At The End Of The Tunnel last month.
Police said they had around seven “potentially interesting” lines of inquiry following the appeal.
Crimestoppers offered a £10,000 reward for information leading to the discovery of Ben who would now be 25.
In May this year, the grandmother of missing Ben Needham who vanished on a Greek island more than 20 years ago has spoken of her hope for a breakthrough in the hunt for him. Christine Needham said: “We’re confident this time it’s going to be our year. Following the TV appeal, more than 100 contacts from Greek people were received.