'Good response' in inquiry over missing Scots woman 'last seen in public in 1999'

Police investigating the disappearance of a vulnerable woman apparently last seen in public 17 years ago say they have had a "good response'' to appeals for information.

Margaret Fleming, 36, was reported missing by her two carers from her home in Main Road, Inverkip, Inverclyde, on October 28 but officers have established the last independent sighting of her was actually in December 1999.

It is understood police went to the house as part of a routine social services enquiry in October but were told she was not there, and her carers later reported her missing.

Officers are keeping an open mind but believe Ms Fleming ''may have come to some harm''.

She is said to have few contactable friends or family and checks on education, employment, health and welfare records have shown no trace of her.

Ms Fleming, who is believed to have learning difficulties, is thought to have attended James Watt College in Greenock between 1996 and 1998, and officers appealed for anyone who remembers her from that time to contact them.

A force spokeswoman said: "We've been encouraged by the response to our appeal yesterday and we're following up a few lines of enquiry.

"Officers remain at the house continuing with their searches and enquiries are continuing.''

Specialist officers have been excavating the garden of the house in Main Road as part of the search.

Detectives from Police Scotland's major investigations team have established that, apart from her carers, the last independent sighting of Ms Fleming was at a family gathering on December 17, 1999.

It is believed Ms Fleming lived with her father in Port Glasgow before he died in October 1995.

She then lived with her grandparents and mother but moved in with carers in 1997, and has been estranged from her mother since.

A police helicopter, dog unit and dive teams have also been searching across Inverclyde for any trace of Ms Fleming.

Detective Chief Inspector Paul Livingstone said on Monday: ''Apart from her carers, the last independent sighting of Margaret was in 1999.

''This, along with facts such as having no trace of a job, few friends that are contactable and no evidence of her contact with partner agencies and local services, has led me to become very concerned for her whereabouts and wellbeing.

''One line of enquiry that I now must consider is the possibility that Margaret may have come to some harm.

''It's important that we keep an open mind to all lines of enquiry but the distinct lack of information about Margaret is concerning."

The carers told police Ms Fleming "has a private side to her life and that she may have friends that they are not aware of'' and officers said any small piece of information from the public could assist them.

She is described as 5ft 5ins with a heavy build, collar-length black hair and brown eyes.

When reported missing on October 28, Ms Fleming was said to be wearing a green tartan fleece or jumper, dark-coloured jeans or trousers, dark Karrimor boots and was carrying a satchel-type handbag.

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