The UK's Metropolian Police confirmed today that the number of officers engaged full time on Operation Grange will be reduced from 29 to four.
The search for Madeleine McCann, missing since May 2007, has cost the British taxpayer an estimated £11 million to date, with 37 officers working on the case at its height.
The McCanns today thanked the police for their work. Some UK newspapers are speculating that Kate and Gerry are considering funding a continuation of the hunt from the 'Find Maddie' fund but this is unconfirmed.
A statement from the Metropolitan Police read, “The investigation into what happened to Madeleine continues but with a smaller team of officers. They are now following a small number of focused lines of inquiry that have allowed them to reduce the size of the Home Office-funded team.
“Operation Grange is working to support the Portuguese investigation and this work continues. While there remain lines of inquiry to follow, the vast majority of the work by Operation Grange has been completed.”
Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, said: “The Met investigation has been painstaking and thorough and has for the first time brought together in one place what was disparate information across the world.
“This work has enabled us to better understand events in Praia da Luz the night Madeleine McCann went missing and ensure every possible measure is being taken to find out what happened to her.
“We still have very definite lines to pursue which is why we are keeping a dedicated team of officers working on the case. We have given this assurance to Madeleine’s parents, Kate and Gerry McCann.
“The Met was asked to take on this exceptional case as one of national interest. We were happy to bring our expertise to bear only on the basis that it would not detract from the policing of London and the Home Office have additionally funded the investigation above normal grants to the Met. That will continue at the reduced level.”
A statement from the McCanns read, “We would like to thank all the staff from Operation Grange for the meticulous and painstaking work that they have carried out over the last four and a half years. The scale and difficulty of their task has never been in doubt.
“We are reassured that the investigation to find Madeleine has been significantly progressed and the Met has a much clearer picture of the events in Praia da Luz leading up to Madeleine’s abduction in 2007.
“Given that the review phase of the investigation is essentially completed, we fully understand the reasons why the team is being reduced. We would also like to thank the Home Office for continuing to support the investigation.
“Whilst we do not know what happened to Madeleine, we remain hopeful that she may still be found given the ongoing lines of enquiry. “
Madeleine's parents said they "fully understand" the decision and remain hopeful their daughter would be found.
Madeleine, from Rothley in Leicestershire, was three when she went missing from a holiday apartment at the Ocean Club in Praia da Luz on May 3rd, 2007.
Detectives from the Met began work after the Home Office requested a review of the case in May 2011 and Operation Grange became a full investigation in July 2012.
Clarence Mitchell, spokesman for the McCanns, said, "Kate and Gerry are far from disillusioned. This is no way the end of Operation Grange. If anything it will now continue on a newly focused, smaller yes, but focused basis that will hopefully lead to Madeleine being found somewhere in the near future."
Met Officers have investigated more than 60 persons of interest and 650 sex offenders have been considered as well as 8,685 potential sightings of Madeleine worldwide.