Taxpayers in Lancashire have been slapped with a £2m bill for the massive security operation surrounding the high-profile trial of murderer Dale Cregan.
Cregan, who has been sentenced to whole life for the murders of PCs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes as well as father and son David and Mark Short in Manchester, was protected by a £5m ring of police security during his trial at Preston Crown Court.
Lancashire Constabulary were forced to stump up £2.375m towards those costs with a further £700,000 being paid by Greater Manchester Police after it was decided he’d stand trial away from Manchester.
Now, Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle, who has secured a £2m Home Office grant to cover further costs, has called for a review in to the procedures for security at trials involving high risk defendants.
He said: “The liability for the costs of this trial should not fall with taxpayers in Lancashire.
“In other areas we see high risk defendants being held in custody in secure prisons that allow direct access to the court through underground tunnels.
“This totally cuts out the need for vast convoys of armoured cars and armed police officers.”
Mr Hoyle wrote to the Home Office urging them to cover the additional costs for the trial and security.
He said: “The trial has cost a massive amount and placed a huge pressure on Lancashire Constabulary to provide specialist fire arms officers, drivers and the force helicopter.
“We have also seen police a reduction in the number of police on the streets of Chorley as a consequence and it’s not right.
“I want to ensure this never happens again.”
Cregan pleaded guilty to killing the officers, later entering guilty pleas to the murders of father and son David and Mark Short in Manchester last year.
He was cleared of the attempted murder of Sharon Hark after the jury took eight days to return verdicts upon the 10 men standing trial on offences relating to the
murders of the Short family members.
Since the beginning of the trial the building in Ring Way has been under 24 hour surveillance with armed officers positioned on the roof of the court and surrounding buildings.
Motorists have become used to the sight of the convoy or two prison vans, police cars, motorcycle outriders and helicopters transporting the prisoners daily from HMP Manchester to Preston Crown Court.
Scaffolding was erected outside the court building to accommodate the armed officers and snipers watched over the court building from nearby offices. In total 120 county police officers were deployed daily.