A major crime unit at a Yorkshire police force responsible for investigating murders, stranger rape and serial armed robberies is to merge with a similar unit in a neighbouring area.
North Yorkshire Police and Cleveland Police will be teaming up to form a new Major Investigation Team from November, in a move bosses say will increase the number of staff investigating the most serious criminal offences.
The unit will be a combination of North Yorkshire Police’s major crime unit, which was enhanced and turned into a dedicated team in 2013, and Cleveland’s murder investigation team, which is less well developed and uses detectives from other units for bigger cases.
Today’s announcement comes days after it was revealed that the investigation into missing York chef Claudia Lawrence, which was led by North Yorkshire’s major crime unit, had not resulted in charges for four men suspected of her murder.
Detective Superintendent Dai Malyn, who led the review into the disappearance of Miss Lawrence when it was launched in 2013, will also lead the combined unit when it is launched.
Officers will still primarily work on offences that occur within their patch, but police say having a single team will “provide both forces with the flexibility to pull on specialist personnel from the wider team when necessary”.
North Yorkshire Police said: “This will help the Team to deal with peaks in demand that are a particular feature of serious cases – especially in the crucial first 72 hours of an incident.”
The new arrangements meant the number of skilled specialists dedicated to major investigation work would increase from 47 to 74 across both forces, with more capacity for reviewing cold cases.
There will also be a Major Incident Support Team, which will handle “passive” investigation tasks such as the analysis of digital and paper records, potentially freeing up warranted officers to focus on the front line investigation.
Dave Jones, Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police, said: “We have had a dedicated team in place for some time to deal with major investigations, but working with Cleveland Police will give us the opportunity to build on the solid foundations we already have in place.
“Major investigations demand a lot of resource – particularly in the early stages of an investigation.
“When it is launched in November, the Major Investigation Team will give us access to a larger number of experienced, specialist staff to tackle serious and often complex offences, so we can get on with the job of bringing criminals to justice as quickly as possible.”
The merger is one of a number of collaborations between North Yorkshire, Cleveland and Durham police forces as part of their Evolve programme to save money and become more efficient.