RESIDENTS have spoken of their shock at seeing squads of police combing through their neighbourhoods as part of the hunt for Sian O’Callaghan.

Walkers and shoppers going about their everyday business in Old Town were confronted with the sight of search teams looking in drains, bins, undergrowth and bushes.

The police teams were searching the park at The Lawns and the bins and bushes around the Old Town Co-op car park, from morning to mid-afternoon yesterday, with the police helicopter hovering overhead.

The search moved from Savernake Forest, near Marlborough, where teams of officers have been hunting for clues since Sunday afternoon.

Courier Peter Felhoffer, 26, of Salcombe Grove, Old Walcot, had been going for a walk through the Lawns shortly after 10am.

“I was just walking and saw about 15 or 20 police officers looking round, wearing boots and gloves,” he said.

“They were searching around, one had a torch and was looking in the drain. Police officers were asking a few questions.

“I had never seen this before. I’ve seen it on television, but not in reality.”

Sue Dutton, 53, of Devizes Road, was picking up some groceries shortly after noon at the Co-op.

“The police were searching the car park at the back of Bell Hotel,” she said. “You go to the Co-op and see police searching in all the hedges. It makes you think it can happen anywhere.”

Carmela Virgilio, 50, of Lakeside, was picking her children up from St Joseph’s Catholic College in Ocotal Way.

“I was shocked. I’m just thinking I hope they find her.”

Her son Francesco, 14, said his teacher had made an appeal for help during classes yesterday.

He said: “They brought up the BBC news website and said ‘Just contact police’.”

One of the search team in operation in Old Town, who would not give his name, said he could “neither confirm nor deny” they had found anything.

“We started searching at 11.50am, and just finished, three and a half hours later,” he said.

“It’s one of those situations where you don’t know if you’ve found anything until you’ve found it.”

Police also set up an incident room in a mobile unit based in the Market Square car park – directly opposite Suju nightclub where Sian was last seen.

It will be open for 24 hours with the hope of attracting anyone with information to come forward.