Search for toddler extends across UK

CCTV footage shows a missing toddler may have been taken to Scotland by her parents. The PSNI have released CCTV images which they believe show Lucy ANderson, 30, fleeing with her little daughter Sophie Anderson, and also her 22-year-oold father Stuart Creaney.

A PSNI spokeswoman said that both the police and social services are “concerned” for the toddler’s welfare.

Sophie was collected as normal from premises on Scarva Street in Banbridge at 10.20am on Monday by her mother to be taken to a mother and toddler’s group.

But instead, police said the pair travelled to Belfast and took the 11.45am sailing to Stranraer.

Sophie’s father Stuart was believed to have been captured on CCTV footage boarding the 7.30am sailing earlier that morning.

Sophie is described as having dark, wavy hair and was in a pink pushchair. Lucy Anderson is 5ft 5in with a flushed complexion, a protruding lower lip and dark, straight hair parted in the middle. She also speaks with a strong Londonderry accent.

Stuart Creaney is described as being boyish looking with auburn, wavy hair and a light beard.

When seen at the ferry terminal he was wearing a black coat with a red hooded top underneath and was carrying a boxed TV, a black rucksack and pulling a black suitcase.

Police are appealing to Lucy and Stuart to return Sophie to her carers as soon as possible or contact social services, close family or police.

Eithne Darragh of the Northern Ireland Association of Social Workers said yesterday that her profession is primarily concerned for the safety and well-being of children.

“And the amount of contact that a child would have with their parents is very individual – it would be unique in each situation – and the child’s needs will be paramount,” she told the BBC.

“So in this situation the assessment has been carried out and the arrangements put in place so that the mother can continue to have contact with her baby.

“Given that Sophie is only 17-months-old, it will be extremely important that the relationships between the mother and the child are maintained and the best way to do that is to have the mother involved in the normal routine of the child, and therefore it is expected that the mother would have taken the child to a mother and toddler group.”

She said social workers will assist the search for Sophie by checking their files for other related addresses and extended family members who may be able to help.

“The social workers may themselves engage with those family members and try and find out is there any way we can find out where this baby and her mother are,” she said.

Anyone who believes they may have seen Sophie, of knows of her whereabouts, is asked to contact police on 0845 600 8000.