As Dale Cregan today wakes up to life imprisonment for the murders of PCs Fiona Bone and Nicola Hughes, Lancashire is counting the cost of the massive security operation surrounding the trial.
The £5m ring of steel surrounding Preston Crown Court has been the largest security operation the city has seen in recent times.
Lancashire Constabulary has stumped up £2.375 million towards the trial costs with a further £700,000 being paid by Greater Manchester Police.
The operation has cost Lancashire Constabulary an additional £1.4million in policing costs and GMP £600,000 which will be covered by a £2 million Home Office grant.
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.
Scanners, usually located inside the court, were moved to an outside cabin, where visitors to the courts were scanned with airport style wands.
Inside the building a further metal detector was located outside court one, where Cregan and his co-defendants stood trial. In the dock the defendants were flanked by security guards and a secure witness box was built to provide additional security as the defendants gave their evidence.
Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner, Clive Grunshaw, said: “It has been a costly operation and I have said all along I do not believe it is right for the people of Lancashire to foot the bill for this trial.
“However, I am pleased to say that following my request to the Home Office for funding , they have provided a grant of £2m, which will cover all the additional costs incurred by both Lancashire Constabulary and GMP during this security operation. This means none of the costs of this trial will fall directly on Lancashire’s taxpayers. The only costs to Lancashire Constabulary are those incurred through officers being deployed to Preston Crown Court as part of their normal working duties, and therefore this has no detrimental impact on our budget. I am pleased to say officers and staff across the county have worked with us during this time to ensure the public did not see any detrimental impact on day to day policing as a result of this operation.
Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle also made representations to the Home Office about the cost.
Mr Hoyle has now replied to the Home Office Minister Damien Green urging him to review procedures for security at trials high risk defendants.
He said: “In other areas we see high risk defendants being held in custody in secure prisons that allow direct access to the court through underground access tunnels.
This totally cuts out the need for vast convoys of armoured cars and armed police officers. I urge the minister to look into how this approach could be used to better effect across when dealing with the most dangerous of offenders.”