Police are digging in the back garden of the nurse arrested in connection with the deaths of babies at the Countess of Chester Hospital.
Officers carrying spades and rakes have been seen entering the Chester home of Lucy Letby. They have also been spotted using a step ladder to climb over Ms Letby’s fence, seemingly to search in the woodland next to her property.
It was not immediately clear what the police searching the property were looking for.
Ms Letby, 28, is believed to have been arrested by detectives investigating the deaths of 17 babies and 15 non-fatal collapses at the hospital between March 2015 and July 2016.
Her modern semi-detached house, now the subject of a police search that has so far lasted two days, is about a mile from the hospital where she has spent the last eight years working as a children’s nurse.
Since her arrest on Tuesday morning, her house has been cordoned off with a blue forensic science tent in the front garden.
Police officers have been seen peering inside a drain at the front of her home, and carrying what appear to be concrete patio paving blocks.
It is believed that officers conducted a fingertip search inside the home on Wednesday, and on Thursday started focusing on the outside of the property.
On Wednesday, a second hospital was also affected by the inquiry into the baby deaths, when Liverpool Women’s Hospital said it was cooperating with police.
It is understood that Ms Letby worked at the Countess of Chester after she graduated as a children’s nurse from the University of Chester in 2011 and went on to complete a work placement at Liverpool Women’s Hospital as part of extra training.
On Wednesday, Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust said in a statement: “A healthcare worker currently involved in a police investigation undertook placements at Liverpool Women’s during their training.
“We are cooperating with police as part of their investigation, which includes a routine review of patients cared for on our neonatal unit during the time of these placements.
“There is currently no suggestion that any patients at Liverpool Women’s came to any harm in relation to this investigation.”
Police have yet to formally name the healthcare worker they have arrested, but Detective Inspector Paul Hughes, leading the investigation, said the arrest had been a “significant step forward [in] a highly complex and very sensitive investigation”.
He added that the investigation was “very much active and ongoing” and that parents of all the babies affected were being updated on the inquiry and supported by trained officers.
Outside experts from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health were brought into the Countess of Chester Hospital in 2016 after paediatric consultants there noticed a sharp rise in deaths of premature babies in 2015 and 2016 compared to previous years.
Acquaintances of Ms Letby have said she was kindhearted, and some have expressed amazement that her house was now being searched by police.
In Hereford, a neighbour of Ms Letby’s parents told reporters: “I just truly can’t believe it. Lucy is so dedicated to her job. She was a delight.”