Fears were growing this afternoon for the safety of a 10-year-old Bradford boy who failed to return home from school last night.

Qaiser Shafiq was last seen by friends outside Heaton Middle School yesterday afternoon.

But he failed to arrive at his home - just a 10-minute walk away in Duchy Grove.

His distraught father Mohammed Shafiq today appealed for the youngster to return home.

He said: "We love him and miss him very much. He's not in any trouble.

"We just want him home safe and sound. He is a vulnerable young boy."

His 15-year-old brother Faisal added: "I just wish he'd ring home. I miss him."

When Qaiser failed to return home from school yesterday, relatives formed their own search party.

They scoured the streets all night in the hope of finding a clue as to the whereabouts of the youngster.

Qaiser has never gone missing before.

Meanwhile, a massive ground and air search has been launched by police for the youngster.

It involves dozens of detectives and uniformed officers, mounted patrols, sniffer dogs and the force helicopter.

Chief Inspector Bruce Light, of Toller Lane Police, said: "We are keeping an open mind, but he is a vulnerable 10-year-old boy.

"As far as we know he had no money and he wasn't wearing particularly warm winter clothing.

"Our fear is that he may have had to spend the night in the open and could be suffering from the effects of the cold weather."

Extra officers have been drafted in from across West Yorkshire to carry out house-to-house inquiries.

Police are also searching rivers, open spaces and reviewing video tapes from closed-circuit television cameras in the Girlington and Heaton areas of Bradford.

City centre shopping precincts, hospitals, local schools and social services staff have also been put on alert.

Mr Shafiq, 47, said: "The only time he's ever been out on his own is when he goes to and from school.

"The only thing I can think of is that he may have got lost somewhere. We're trying not to think the worst, but it's difficult."

Qaiser was seen at a bus stop outside Heaton Middle School at about 3.30pm yesterday.

Later he was seen on his own in the Girlington branch of Morrison's between 6.30pm and 7pm.

He was wearing a navy blue and green thigh-length Regatta jacket, grey school trousers, a navy blue school jumper, black woolly hat and he was carrying a yellow and black rucksack on his back.

Qaiser is described as of Asian appearance, small for his age, with brown eyes and short straight dark hair with a bald patch on the crown of his head.

This afternoon, his family and friends were taking part in a fingertip search with police, retracing the route the youngster usually takes home from school.

Additional police reinforcements were being called in to help in the hunt for the 10-year-old.

An incident room has been set up at Toller Lane police station.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact Toller Lane Police on 0845 6060606.

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