Major crimes targeted for new review

UNSOLVED major crimes dating back as far as the 1960s could be among those reviewed by a dedicated new team at Essex Police, it has emerged.Two specialist retired detectives have been recruited to examine so-called "cold" cases as well as over-view current investigations.

By Roddy Ashworth

UNSOLVED major crimes dating back as far as the 1960s could be among those reviewed by a dedicated new team at Essex Police, it has emerged.

Two specialist retired detectives have been recruited to examine so-called "cold" cases as well as over-view current investigations.

The EADT first revealed the plans on Saturday, but further details were released yesterday .

Managed by Det Supt Simon Coxall, the force's director of investigations, Ray Newman, 55, and Peter Hamilton, 50, have already begun prioritising cases to be reviewed.

There are nearly 60 crimes classed as "MAREs" – murder, abduction rape and extortion cases – and 18 of those are unsolved murders.

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Det Supt Coxall said yesterday that the recruitment of the two former detective chief inspectors was based on their investigative and organisational experience as well as their ability to communicate.

"The review team does not conduct reinvestigations of a crime itself. They are not police officers.

"The review identifies the potential for reinvestigation."

He explained that criteria for re-examining cases included advances in forensic science that might make new evidence available or other factors, such as a change in public attitudes to talking to the police.

"The police do not lose interest in a case, particularly where the most serious crimes have been committed.

"The police are committed to getting justice for the victims of those crimes."

But he stressed it was not just "cold" cases that the team would deal with. Recent murder investigations that might be examined included the death of Thelma Avis in Colchester and that of Jean Dicker in Clacton.

He added that this was not to try to critically "inspect" the inquiries but was rather to see if further help or resources would be appropriate.

"Both of my colleagues have a tremendous amount of credibility when it comes to the investigation of major crime.

"It can be a lonely experience being a senior investigating officer. There is an awful lot of accountability and an awful lot of responsibility.

"Anything that can provide a sounding board or support is going to be more than welcome."

Mr Newman said he was pleased to be back working on cases both old and new.

"I've always enjoyed working for Essex Police. I've gained an enormous amount of experience, but I'm too old to be rolling around on pavements with drunks.

"I have always been interested in murder inquiries and this is an opportunity to build on work I have been doing."

Mr Hamilton said: "It is interesting using the skills and experience I feel I have gained over the years, and it would be a shame to waste them."

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