Police support returns home

HUNDREDS of police officers were today preparing to leave Suffolk after spending weeks assisting with the inquiries into Ipswich's red-light killings.

HUNDREDS of police officers were today preparing to leave Suffolk after spending weeks assisting with the inquiries into Ipswich's red-light killings.

At the height of investigations into the deaths of Tania Nicol, 19, Gemma Adams, 25, Anneli Alderton, 24, Paula Clennell, 24, and Annette Nicholls, 29, nearly 270 officers and police staff were working on the case.

That number has steadily decreased over the last two months and it is likely that the majority of officers and police staff will be able to return home within the next fortnight.

Lisa Miller, spokeswoman for Suffolk police, said: “Suffolk Constabulary is extremely grateful for the assistance it has received from other forces and organisations throughout this investigation.

“At this stage it has not been confirmed exactly when the mutual aid officers will be leaving Suffolk although it is anticipated that a good proportion will be leaving at the end of March.”

Nearly every police force in England and Wales was assisting with the investigation in mid-December.

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Officers from the British Transport Police, the Ministry of Defence police and the Northern Ireland Police Service also provided assistance.

Thirty-nine forces have assisted at some point in the investigation and 61 officers and staff from 22 outside forces remain in the county today.

Those from outside Suffolk were called in under national mutual aid agreements which require emergency services to assist one another during disasters or when inquiries stretch local resources.

Suffolk is one of the smallest police forces in the country with only 1,323 officers and needed support from across the country to cope with the huge demands of the five inquiries.

Officers from elsewhere in the country have also assisted with the investigation into the killing of 24-year-old Jimoh Plunkett, the Londoner gunned down and killed at Zest nightclub in Ipswich on December 9.

Joanna Spicer, Suffolk County Council portfolio holder for public protection, said: "It was absolutely excellent the way that, not just neighbouring forces but forces from all over the country, offered not just help but equipment.

"The investigations continue but this does show that a small force like Suffolk can respond to even the most serious of incidents by using the mutual support arrangements that exist.

"This proves we don't need any large regional police forces to respond effectively.

"I would like to say thank you to all those who have assisted with the inquiry."

Police from outside Suffolk who have worked on the investigation into the red light killings have assisted in the incident room and at the scenes.

Specialist exhibit officers and document readers were called in to help, along with staff able to work on the Home Office Large Major Enquiry System (HOLMES), a database which processes and records information coming into the incident room.

Merseyside police also provided ten automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) vehicles to check the vehicle details of every car going to and from the red-light district.

Steve Wright, 48, of London Road, Ipswich has been charged with all five murders. He is due to appear at Ipswich Crown Court May 1 when he is expected to enter a plea.

Tom Stephens, 37, of Trimley St Martin, was today due to answer bail at a Suffolk police station. He was arrested in December on suspicion of the murder of all five women.

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