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Police forces launches unit to tackle serious crimes
A POLICE force for an area with the lowest crime rate in England has launched a squad dedicated to investigating murders, serious offences and unsolved cold cases.
North Yorkshire Police has increased the number of officers and staff working on serious crimes from about ten to 31 after developing a £300,000 major crime unit to cover the 8,654sq km county and York.
The unit at the force’s Harrogate station will include trained exhibits and disclosure staff, analytical and research capability, a Major Incident Room function, CCTV viewing room and other tools and equipment to improve the investigation of serious crimes.
It marks a sea-change for the force, which in the past has diverted officers from the local neighbourhood policing and CID teams to support long-running major investigations, such as the search for York chef Claudia Lawrence and the Melsonby post office murder case in 2010.
During the trial of Melsonby postmaster Robin Garbutt in 2011, a barrister likened the crime scene management at post office near Richmond to a "comedy of errors" and judge Mr Justice Openshaw said officers had shown a "regrettable lack of professionalism".
A spokesman for the force said the unit’s expansion was not a reaction to any single case, but rather a drive to modernise its policing methods and ensure serious investigations had little or no impact on day-to-day local policing.
Office of National Statistics figures showed earlier this year that violent and sexual offences had been reduced by eight and seven per cent respectively, and robbery had fallen by 32 per cent, and it is hoped the unit will further drive down the number serious crimes.
Detective Superintendent Dai Malyn, head of the unit, said the unit would enable the force to rapidly deploy detectives to incidents, such as kidnappings, which required a particularly intensive and complex response.
He said: “In addition to live cases, we have capacity to review cold cases, historic investigations that remain unsolved.
“Using new forensic and investigative techniques not available at the time, we seek to progress and resolve investigations.
“Also, with the dedicated team in place, this will help to develop specialist investigative skills and experience through exposure to a greater range of serious enquiries and access to centralised training services.”
Julia Mulligan, the county’s police and crime commissioner, said: “The unit will not only significantly boost the police’s capability to deal with serious crimes, but will also lessen the impact on local neighbourhood policing by reducing the number of officers seconded out of local communities.”
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