THE disappearance of Mikaeel has raised a number of puzzling questions.
Although the youngster was said to be active and alert, police are still trying to work out if he was capable of leaving the house on his own.
• Did he manage to put his jacket, gloves, joggers and shoes on on his own on top of his pyjamas?
• How did get out of the first floor flat without awakening other members of his family?
• Was he capable of opening the inner door to get access to the hallway?
• Could he reach and operate the button that opens the heavy main door of the block of flats?
• Although he may have vanished in the early hours of the morning how could he remain unseen for such a lengthy period?
Police Scotland Superintendent Liz McAinsh said police believe Mikaeel may have been capable of leaving the flat on his own. She said: “There is no evidence to suggest criminality at the moment but clearly we are keeping an open mind.
“We’re a big organisation now with Police Scotland and we are using all of the resources at our disposal to look for this three-year-old boy.’’
Asked whether she thought Mikaeel might have left of his own accord, Ms McAinsh told reporters: “We don’t know if he may have left of his own volition, but obviously that’s one line of inquiry we are following up.’’
Ms McAinsh said: “I would stress that our search focus remains in Edinburgh, in the Drylaw area, specifically in Pennywell and Muirhouse and Silverknowes.
“Anyone in the locality, please continue searching in your own properties. If your neighbours are away, think about searching their gardens, their sheds, their wheelie bins – anywhere a three-year-old boy might seek shelter.”
Today a former Edinburgh police officer said the first 24 hours of a missing person inquiry are “absolutely critical”.
The source, who asked not to be named, outlined the priorities facing detectives working round-the-clock to trace Mikaeel. They said there would be three strands to the inquiry: background checks on family stability, investigations to determine whether the child could have left on his own, and whether “some fate had befallen” the youngster before he went missing.
Speaking to the News, the former officer said: “Time and time again, three-year-olds have gone missing, houses have been searched and eventually the child has been found in the house having been concealed somewhere.
“The first 24 hours are absolutely critical, that is why you have helicopters overhead. They will be out there with heat-seeking devices to trace any heat spots on the cold ground that might detect where there is somebody hiding. There will be a gold control room and various silver commanders in charge of various aspects, a CID inquiry team looking into family background and a uniform search inquiry on the ground. On-street CCTV is limited so police will be looking at images captured from garages and shops to see what vehicles have been moving around the area. The fact Mikaeel was wearing a jacket, shoes and gloves is more suggestive that someone took him from the house rather than him leaving of his own volition.”