Missing chef investigation scaled down

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The Independent Online

Police investigating the disappearance of chef Claudia Lawrence confirmed today they are scaling back the number of officers dedicated to the inquiry.

Miss Lawrence was 35 when she failed to turn up for work at York University 16 months ago.

No trace of her has been found despite a massive operation by North Yorkshire Police and a high-profile campaign by her father Peter.

Today, senior officers from the force said the amount of police resources devoted to the case will be cut back further next month.

Assistant Chief Constable Tim Madgwick said 100 officers were dedicated to the investigation at its height.

A year after Miss Lawrence disappeared, this figure had dropped to about 20 to 30 and there are now 16 detectives involved.

Mr Madgwick said this will be cut to seven officers next month.

He said: "North Yorkshire Police have conducted a thorough and detailed investigation into the disappearance of Claudia Lawrence which has included the deployment of specialist resources for a considerable period of time.

"During the past sixteen months, as leads are followed, investigated and actions completed, we are now in a position where there is no longer a requirement for the level of resources allocated to the inquiry.

"The decision to reduce dedicated resources has been taken after several months of further review and detailed scrutiny.

"Claudia's family have been fully informed about the current position of the investigation.

"They have been assured that our overriding desire is to bring the person or persons responsible for Claudia's disappearance to justice.

"The investigation remains open and will be continuously reviewed with the necessary resources allocated should any new evidence or lines of inquiry emerge.

"The reduction in resources will be gradual over the coming weeks as lines of inquiry are completed."

Mr Madgwick said a dedicated response team and phone number will be allocated to respond to any calls received as a result of a Channel 4 documentary about Miss Lawrence which is due to be screened on August 13.

The force said the additional cost of the operation so far is about £770,000.