Sussex Police have refused to divulge the "failings" that may have hindered their search for a missing woman over fears they could compromise an ongoing murder probe.

In 2020, the force told the family of Georgina Garsallah that an internal review found a series of faults in the way it handled the disappearance of the mother-of-two in Worthing five years ago.

These include, the family says, key CCTV footage going unreviewed for more than a year, nine “potentially” significant sections of footage being lost, and a failure to place Georgina on an Interpol watchlist for more than 18 months. 

In the week which marks the fifth anniversary of Georgina’s disappearance, police still refuse to explain all the internal review's findings, which have been dubbed “failings” by her family and “recommendations” by the force. 

Dunfermline Press:

Sussex Police, who upgraded the disappearance to a murder inquiry in 2019, say releasing those findings could impact the live homicide investigation and its potential prosecutions.

On the latest episode of NQI's Talking True Cases podcast, Georgina’s mother Andrea recalled the original meeting with an officer.

Speaking about the moment she asked him to explain all the findings of the internal review, Andrea said: “He called it very minor things and he got up and said 'we need to leave now I’ve got an appointment'. 

“After I requested another meeting about the rest of them, the whole of these 27 failures, we were told 'no we couldn’t because it was a live investigation'."

Andrea said the "failings" she was told of would have hampered the force's investigation into the disappearance of her daughter – especially CCTV going unreviewed.

Georgina was last seen on CCTV in a Clifton Road shop at 10.30am. However, there's an unconfirmed sighting of Georgina walking with an unidentified woman at about 4pm on CCTV in Chapel Road.

While CCTV from a passing bus may have confirmed the second sighting, this was lost by the time Sussex Police reviewed the footage a year later, the family said.

Andrea said: "If they had looked at it [Chapel Road CCTV] in April 2018, they might have had more leads, such as CCTV footage from the bus, but they only kept the footage from the bus for a month. 

"At the time Chief Constable Jo Shiner said 'it’s a learning curve' and she apologised on behalf of all of them. 

"I said it’s not good enough, this is my daughter's investigation, how do you expect us just to accept that 

"It’s a learning curve... you lost CCTV that could have given vital information."

Dunfermline Press: Andrea Gharsallah at a vigil for her daughter Georgina Andrea Gharsallah at a vigil for her daughter Georgina (Image: Newsquest)

The Argus has submitted a Freedom of Information (FoI) request to obtain the full internal review in a bid to find further answers for Georgina’s family. 

A spokeswoman for Sussex Police said: "The force openly shared as much detail as possible with Georgina’s family around the review and its subsequent recommendations.

"However, while this remains a live investigation, we must take steps to ensure we do not share any information that may impact on that or any future prosecutions."

Speaking on the fifth anniversary of her disappearance earlier this week, Detective Superintendent Andy Wolstenholme said: “We are as committed today as we were on day one to finding out what happened to Georgina.

“My team and I remain ready to investigate any viable lines of enquiry that come in and we can only do that with information from the public, so I would urge anyone with information to call into the police or call into Crimestoppers with that information."

Anyone who has information about Georgina's disappearance is asked to report it to police online or by calling 101 quoting Operation Pavo.

Information can also be passed anonymously to the investigation team via the independent charity Crimestoppers online or by calling 0800 555 111. Both options are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.