Killings stretch police resources

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JUST OVER 300 police officers were on duty at any one time last Tuesday in Lincolnshire, a mainly rural county not renowned for violence. Yet 108 of them were involved in murder inquiries.

A rash of 11 killings this year in a county with a population of 596,000 has stretched the force to the limit. It has already used up its pounds 500,000 major-incident budget, and senior officers are considering asking the police authority for more money.

The killings are not related, and appear to be a statistical freak, not the result of a violent trend. Lincolnshire's Assistant Chief Constable, Alan Goldsmith, said: 'It has put a tremendous strain on resources.'

It is the two most recent killings that have brought the situation to national attention. Last Tuesday Kathleen Hempsall, 40, was found stabbed to death in her home. There was no sign of a forced entry. although she had set off a burglar alarm. The killing came only two weeks after the murder of Julie Pacey, 38, who was strangled at her home in Grantham.

But with officers still working on the murder of Sharon Harper, 21, in Grantham on 2 July, and the death of Diane Clark, 51, in a fire at her home in Gainsborough on 16 May, resources are at the limit.

Mr Goldsmith said that with the allocation for major inquiries in the force's budget this year spent, cash may might have to be diverted from elsewhere.

Police are concerned that if a new formula for calculating force budgets, now being considered by the Home Office, is introduced, they might not cope in a similar situation. From April there will be a cash limit on authorities, fixed by the Government and based on factors such as the level of social deprivation. This would reduce the money available to Lincolnshire Police by 10 per cent.

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