Police were today searching Heslington village, in connection to the disappearance of University of York chef, Claudia Lawrence.
According to North Yorkshire Police, the fresh search comes in response to information received “in the last few days” and is not related to the recent Crimewatch appeal for information on Miss Lawrence.
A statement from North Yorkshire Police, released at 4.55pm today, said that the search is “expected to last up to three days.”
The search has focused heavily on the area surrounding Halifax College. A first-year Halifax student, who was away from University at the time of the police searches, commented: “It’s shocking to know that their investigation has extended [to near Halifax College]. I was quite frightened when I heard the news.”
Halifax President, Lydia Blundell, said that “the police have every right” and that she hopes “Halifax students are helpful.”
In April of last year, the University was condemned for allowing police to search student rooms without their permission. Blundell added: “Students have the right to be informed if they are going to be searched.”
The disappearance of Miss Lawrence, who failed to turn up for work on the morning of March 18 2009, is now being treated as a murder inquiry.
Blundell wished to reassure Halifax students, however, and said she hopes that “Halifax students feel safe.”
Ten officers and three police dogs were involved in today’s search of the University and a part of Heslington village known as The Outgang. Thus far the investigation has cost over £600,000 and is believed to be the largest investigation undertaken in the history of North Yorkshire Police.
Tim Ngwena, YUSU President, said: “We will continue to strongly oppose any repeat of last year’s invasion of privacy in entering student rooms without consent; students at York should have the same rights as any citizen. For searches that fall outside of students’ rooms we have contacted the police to ensure that they show appropriate sensitivity and respect for students privacy, but fully support their efforts to thoroughly consider all options in the search for Claudia.
“If anyone has any concerns about the way the investigation is being carried out, or is personally affected by the wider issues around the case, we encourage them to come to the advice and support centre in James college for help as soon as possible.”