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Last Updated: Sunday, 13 March, 2005, 15:23 GMT
Police force's murder 'struggle'
police car
Nottinghamshire has run out of major incident rooms
A police force is "struggling to cope" with a wave of murders because officers have too many clerical duties, its chief constable, Steve Green, has said.

Nottinghamshire Constabulary is dealing with 30 murders and has had to "borrow" officers from other forces, he said.

Nottingham had the fifth highest level of gun crime per head of population in England and Wales last year.

But the Home Office insisted reforms meant red-tape was being cut and that police funding was increasing.

The Sunday Telegraph quotes Mr Green as saying the force may have to "farm out" murder cases to other forces.

The paper says the reopened inquiry into the murder of Colette Aram, 16, who was raped and strangled in Nottinghamshire in 1983, illustrates the problem.

At the end of the day...we just want murders solved
Janice Collins, mother of murder victim

It reports that an appeal on Crimewatch last June for information resulted in about 300 phone calls but none have yet been returned.

The BBC's Bob Sinkinson said part of Mr Green's staffing problem was the removal of officers from front line duties to carry out clerical duties.

He said a succession of high profile murders and a big rise in gun and violent crime had led Mr Green to "warn his force is struggling to cope".

Nottinghamshire has run out of major incident rooms because of the number of murder inquiries - classrooms in training blocks are being converted to help.

'Crisis situation'

The Sunday Telegraph report says since 2001, officers have had to investigate 21 Category A murders - high profile cases with no immediate suspect. Before 2000, the average was one every 12 to 18 months.

The paper quotes Mr Green as saying: "We are reeling with the murders. We are in a long-standing crisis situation with major crime and it won't go away overnight," he said.

Janice Collins, whose son Brendon Lawrence, 16, was shot dead in Nottingham three years ago, agreed it could be necessary to "farm out" cases to other forces.

Detectives have made more than 20 arrests, but no-one has been charged with his murder.

Mrs Collins told BBC News: "It's sad really but at the end of the day for myself as a victim and for other families, we just want murders solved.

More money

"I think he is very true in what he is saying.

"We are only in March and we have already had several murders since the start of the year."

John Hammond, chairman of Nottinghamshire Police Federation, said they had sympathy with Mr Green's standpoint and it further highlighted their repeated calls for increased resources.

The Home Office, however, claimed reforms meant red-tape was being cut.

Home Office Minister Hazel Blears said: "Police funding has increased by 750m to almost 12bn for the coming financial year.

"We have record numbers of police officers and through the police reform agenda are cutting red tape and bureaucracy."

Shadow home secretary David Davis claimed the city's problems were a "direct result" of the government's failure to tackle drink and drugs properly.

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Mark Oaten urged ministers to take note of the concerns added: "Form filling should not be getting in the way of fighting violent crime."


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SEE ALSO:
City to start anti-gun mentoring
09 Feb 05 |  Nottinghamshire
Gun crime fears 'hitting tourism'
31 Jan 05 |  Nottinghamshire
Disappointment over gun amnesty
15 Dec 04 |  Nottinghamshire
'Prayer patrols' face gun crime
17 Nov 04 |  Nottinghamshire
Community saddened and fearful
11 Oct 04 |  Nottinghamshire
Candle vigil for slain teenager
20 Feb 05 |  Nottinghamshire


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