Shannon police help hunt for missing Tia

The partner of Tia's grandmother was questioned as a witness by Police last night, he later returned home Photo: Metropolitan Police

Police from the force that investigated the kidnapping of Shannon Matthews are now involved in the search for missing schoolgirl Tia Sharp, Scotland Yard confirmed today.

Tia, 12, has never run away before but vanished without a trace on Friday afternoon after telling relatives she was going shopping at the Whitgift Centre in Croydon.

Officers from West Yorkshire Police are now involved in the search for Tia.

Scotland Yard said they have been drafted in for their expertise in kidnap cases, in particular the disappearance of nine-year-old Shannon Matthews, who was kidnapped by her mother and her partner's uncle in February 2008.

Karen Matthews and her accomplice Michael Donovan, from Dewsbury, were convicted in December 2008 of her kidnap, which they committed in a plan to claim £50,000 in reward money.

A police spokesman said: "As is routine we liase with all forces that have dealt with similar cases.

"This case is like the Shannon Matthews case. This is a missing persons case and we are putting all our resources into finding her."

Tia is thought to have been last seen at the house where her grandmother Christine Sharp, 46, lives with partner Stuart Hazell, 37, at The Lindens in New Addington, south-east London.

Mr Hazell, thought to be one of the last people to see Tia, was questioned by police as a witness for more than two hours yesterday before returning home.