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North Yorkshire Police's Major Crime Unit to focus on most serious crime
A PERMANENT crime unit which focuses on murder and other serious and violent crimes will be relaunched by North Yorkshire Police today.
The force has invested £300,000 in improving the Major Crime Unit (MCU), which is headed by Detective Superintendent Dai Malyn and includes 31 officers and staff, detectives, analysts, and special units for viewing CCTV and research.
Chief constable Dave Jones, head of crime Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Mason, and Julia Mulligan, the police and crime commissioner for North Yorkshire, will relaunch the unit, based at Harrogate’s £18 million police station.
Mr Jones said the MCU would only investigate the most serious crimes, including murder, violent and sexual offences. It would mean officers and members of CID would not have to be drawn from local teams.
He said: “In the past when such incidents occurred extra resources had to be abstracted from the local neighbourhood policing and CID teams to support investigations, which often run over a sustained period of time.
“We now have a dedicated Major Crime Unit that has the required resources to deal with serious investigations with little or no impact on day-to-day local policing.”
The MCU will also review so called “cold cases”, historic cases which have remained unsolved, including the disappearance and suspected murder of Harrogate woman Marsha Wray, the skeletal remains of a woman found in undergrowth in Sutton Bank 30 years ago and the disappearance of York chef Claudia Lawrence.
Mrs Mulligan said the MCU would “significantly boost” the police’s ability to deal with serious crimes, and was “crucial to keeping North Yorkshire the safest county in England”.
Detective Chief Superintendent Simon Mason, head of crime operations, oversaw the development of the MCU. He said: “Ultimately, this move is about improving our service to the public so we can secure justice for victims and their loved ones under the most traumatic of circumstances.”
Det Supt Malyn, who has been a detective in North Yorkshire since the early 1990s, said he was “honoured and privileged” to be heading up the MCU, which marks the first time a dedicated team has been assembled specifically for major incidents.
He said: “The new arrangement allows us to quickly mobilise and deploy a dedicated investigative resource to an incident which is independent of other demands. This includes dealing with crimes in action such as kidnap, which require a particularly intensive and complex response.”
New methods to tackle ‘cold cases’
The MCU will also use new forensic and investigative techniques which may not have been available to officers investigating incidents which have remained unsolved.
One of the first cases to be reviewed will be Marsha Wray, who was last seen alive on January 24, 1997, after dropping her children at school in Harrogate.
Despite intensive investigations, searches and public appeals, police still do not know what happened to her, and there have been no reported sightings since her disappearance.
Det Supt Malyn said: “It is perhaps ironic, but I worked on this case as a young detective when Marsha went missing from Harrogate in January 1997. I remain as determined now to bring closure to this case and provide answers to her family and friends.
“I remain convinced that there are people who may have information that could help us with this investigation even now.
“All I ask is for them to contact us so that we can establish the relevance and importance of what they have to say.”
Officers at the MCU are specially trained to provide support for anyone coming forward with information, and Det Supt Malyn urged anyone who may have information which could assist the investigation to phone them on 101, or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.
He said: “In ‘cold cases’, we rely on the support from our communities in terms of providing information we can work with and generate the necessary lines of inquiry to find the evidence and answers.
“If you can help, please do the right thing and come forward.”