Georgina Gharsallah: Sussex Police defends its handling of case after family criticism

Sussex Police has defended its handling of the case concerning the disappearance of Georgina Gharsallah after her family criticised the force.

Georgina, 32, was last seen on March 7 2018, leaving Clifton Food and Wines store in Clifton Road, Worthing - and despite months of investigations, she has yet to be found.

Georgina Gharsallah. Picture: Sussex Police

Georgina Gharsallah. Picture: Sussex Police

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Georgina Gharsallah: everything we know so far about her disappearance
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In recent months, the family of the mother-of-two from Worthing has ramped up its criticisms of how Sussex Police handled the case. This came after the force decided to record her disappearance as a homicide.

In an open letter to Chief Constable of Sussex Police Giles York and Katy Bourne, Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, they demanded 'concrete answers' to several questions, including why the force 'ignored all early pleas by the family to review CCTV in the town centre of Worthing' and why Sussex Police had been 'allowed to dismiss every potential suspect,

all reported sightings and witnesses regarding Georgina’s disappearance when there appears to be evidence which suggests that some of these are credible leads'.

Petra Edwards and Andrea Gharsallah, Georgina's mother

Petra Edwards and Andrea Gharsallah, Georgina's mother

The letter said: "How does Sussex Police have the audacity to say they are not able to just go and question people of interest regarding this case?

"How is it that Sussex Police are able to question any person randomly on the street, but are not questioning potential suspects or witnesses in a missing case, which they have now raised to a potential homicide?"

This comes after investigative journalist Donal MacIntyre and ex-policeman and documentary producer Steve Langridge made the podcast ‘Find Georgina’ which will be released on the anniversary of her disappearance on March 7th in 2020.

A reconstruction of Georgina's final moments was also made by the family with their help and the advice of former DCI Clive Driscoll.

Today (December 30) Sussex Police released a statement saying the force remained committed to the case.

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Inspector Andy Wolstenholme said: “We remain dedicated to investigating the disappearance of Georgina and progressing any credible lines of enquiry.

“Appeals and information about her disappearance have been published not only on our website and social media, but by local media too, and these have included potential sightings and a video appeal from the family and another senior officer.

"We have been able to work with the Missing Persons and Crimetoppers charity, the latter of which are providing a £10,000 reward for information which leads to the discovery of Georgina.

“Despite all of this and all other investigative lines of enquiry to date, we have been unable to find any proof that Georgina is alive and the case was re-classified as a homicide in August this year. We are committed to recording suspected crimes fairly, openly and accurately and following a number of vital enquiries to test ‘proof of life’ were unable to conclusively show that Georgina is alive, I took the decision to record her disappearance as homicide.

“This will undoubtedly be an extremely difficult time of year for the family and friends of Georgina, who continue to wait for answers they desperately need.

“We know someone must know something as it is simply impossible for someone to disappear without a trace. If you have any information which you believe could assist us in our investigation please get in touch with us by going online or calling 101 quoting Operation Pavo. Alternatively, You can also contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or report it online."