Home office help for inquiry

MILLIONS of pounds have been spent on Suffolk police's inquiry into the murders of five women and the Home Office is believed to be providing additional financial support today.

MILLIONS of pounds have been spent on Suffolk police's inquiry into the murders of five women and the Home Office is believed to be providing additional financial support today.

Warnings last month indicated that the force would run out of cash to spend on the inquiry on about January 1 and would rely on government funds from then on.

Ipswich MP Chris Mole told the Star that he understood the constabulary only had the reserves to maintain an inquiry of such magnitude for about three weeks.

Today marks the third week since the discoveries of the bodies of Paula Clennell, 24, and Annette Nicholls, 29 in Levington.

The naked bodies of Gemma Adams, 25, Tania Nicol, 19 and Anneli Alderton, 24, had been found earlier that month.

The government had indicated they would provide financial assistance where needed in the inquiry.

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The Home Office is expected to step in if a single inquiry eats up more than one per cent of a force's total annual budget.

Suffolk's budget for 2006/07 is £99.5million so the trigger is just under £1m - the inquiry is already thought to have cost substantially above that figure.

Suffolk police is attempting to cover the cost of normal policing, the standard processes within the inquiry and the huge cost of overtime.

It also has to stump up the cost of accommodation and wages for hundreds of officers deployed to Suffolk from forces across the country.

The inquiry is continuing on the same scale as it was three weeks ago with police continuing to keep sections of road at Nacton closed and preserving the scene at the home of Steve Wright in London Road.

An area on the banks of the river Orwell, near the Orwell bridge remained sealed off today as part of the investigation.

Officers are preserving the area after receiving reports of property - believed to be clothes - being found.

Soil is also reportedly being taken from scenes in Nacton and Levington, where Miss Alderton's body and the bodies of Miss Clennell and Miss Nicholls were found.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk police would not speculate on whether soil was being taken but said extensive forensic examinations would take place at all of the scenes.

Asked if Chief Constable Alastair McWhirter would be postponing plans to retire at the end of March because of the inquiries she said she did not believe he would be changing his plans.

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