Killings inquiry cost £5m in first month

SUFFOLK police's inquiry into the deaths of five women in Ipswich has already cost £5million in its first month, it can be revealed today.The policing bill already exceeds the initial stages of the Soham murder probe - which amounted to £2m in its opening weeks - and is expected to rise sharply as further investigative work is carried out.

SUFFOLK police's inquiry into the deaths of five women in Ipswich has already cost £5million in its first month, it can be revealed today.

The policing bill already exceeds the initial stages of the Soham murder probe - which amounted to £2m in its opening weeks - and is expected to rise sharply as further investigative work is carried out.

The Home Office has agreed to step in and cover a large proportion of the cost, leaving Suffolk with a bill of £1m so far.

But the force has insisted the “unprecedented” investigation would not affect its ability to fund all other operational expenditure, despite costs already amounting to 5 per cent of its £99.5m budget.

More than 360 police officers and staff from 31 forces were initially drafted in to help police investigating the deaths of Tania Nicol, 19, Gemma Adams, 25, Anneli Alderton, 24, Paula Clennell, 24, and Annette Nicholls, 29.

Suffolk police must cover the cost of accommodation and wages for all the officers deployed.

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Although many have now returned to their force, 250 officers remain in Suffolk as police continue to gather evidence.

John Grand, treasurer of Suffolk Police Authority, said the force would have to cover at least £1m of the costs so far by dipping into its reserve fund, which stands at about £3.4m.

He said: “It will not come as a surprise the deaths of five females and the shooting at Zest caused a few extra police officers to be brought into Suffolk. We have to pay for them so our costs exceeded rapidly.

“I do know up to the beginning of January we had spent an extra £5m.

“Our reserves are there for a purpose - to meet the unexpected. We expect to draw on these reserves to help cover the cost of these major incidents.

“Obviously the £1m we have to spend we would have preferred to spend on something else but that's the reason we hold a reserve fund - for the unexpected. The scale of it is unprecedented.”

The treasurer wrote to Police Minister Tony McNulty in December requesting financial help to cope with what has become one of the largest murder investigations undertaken in Britain.

A letter was sent to Suffolk Police Authority recently indicating the Home Office would help but Mr Grand said the exact figure had not been set yet because the costs of the investigation were ongoing.

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