Police investigate second area of scrubland in Madeleine McCann search

British police and their Portuguese counterparts search a patch of scrubland in the Madeleine McCann investigation. Credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

Police teams in Praia da Luz have shifted the focus of their investigation this morning from a fifteen-acre patch of waste ground in the centre of town to an expanse of scrubland a mile or so away.

The teams arrived this early morning and cordoned off one small area of around one hundred square metres where British officers are scouring the earth and digging.

It's the same process they used all last week - slow, methodical and meticulous.

Madeleine McCann went missing in Praia da Luz, Portugal in May 2007. Credit: Family handout

Meanwhile, in a second area out of sight and perhaps 400 metres away, sniffer dogs are at work.

They've been sent into the undergrowth to search for anything that could provide a lead in the a case, which has overshadowed this part of the Algarve for seven long years.

This is the first week of high season in Portugal's tourist resorts, and many people here are unhappy that this small, sleepy town is still synonymous with the disappearance of Madeleine McCann.

This graffiti was scrawled on a wall overlooking the new search site overnight. Credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

Fresh graffiti appeared overnight, not far from the search site. Written in Portuguese, it reads "English police are stupid".

While that is clearly unkind, the team from the Met Police, who have spent more than a week here, are understood to be disappointed that their search has yielded nothing so far.

They are likely to continue their work today and tomorrow at least. They have the option of working on Friday, too.

Once the searching is over, it's understood Portuguese police will begin the process of interviewing the eight "people of interest" they've identified in connection with this case.

Madeleine McCann police cordoned off the area this morning. Credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

It's understood the three "key suspects" are among them.

British police officers will be allowed to observe the process, but will not contribute directly to the interviews.

It's a laborious process, and the longer it goes on the more likely it seems that it will serve simply to rule these areas out of the inquiry.

But the police operate, as ever, in the hope that the lead they need may be around the next corner, or under the next patch of earth.

More on this story