Almost three months on from the shocking poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, 100 counter-terror officers still remain in Salisbury, the Met Police has reported.
In the weeks since the nerve agent attack which left both victims critically ill, 250 detectives from across the Counter Terrorism Policing Network have been involved in the “painstaking” attempted murder investigation, the force said.
Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, a Wiltshire police officer who was amongst the first to respond to the incident and was contaminated by the nerve agent, remains off work despite being discharged in March.
Announcing that officers are still dealing with a number of “unique and complex issues” in the “extremely challenging” probe, Scotland Yard revealed the huge scale of the investigation.
While officers have scoured through more than 4,000 hours of CCTV footage to determine the culprit, more than 2,300 pieces of evidence have been recovered - around 850 of which have had to be stored at the Defence Science and Technology Lab due to contamination issues.
So far, detectives have carried out 190 examinations at the Porton Down laboratory.
- 176 searches of Salisbury have been undertaken
- 900 witness statements have been recorded
- 14,000 vehicles and 2,500 pedestrians in the area at the time of the attack have been identified, assessed and graded according to significance
- House-to-house inquiries have been completed at 379 addresses
- Officers have dropped leaflets appealing for information at hundreds more homes
Detectives continue to focus their enquiries around the Skripals’ home address where it believed that they first came into contact with the nerve agent, with specialists identifying the highest concentration of the chemical on Sergei’s front door.
Traces of the nerve agent were found at some of the other scenes detectives have been working at over the past few weeks, but at lower concentrations than found at the home address, the police said in a statement.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, the senior national coordinator for counter terrorism policing, said the case was “very unusual” in both its scale and complexity.
“We have said from the start that this investigation was going to take some time as we rigorously follow the evidence,” he said, adding that the city is still recovering from the incident.
“With such a sensitive and complex investigation, I am sure the public will appreciate that there are still a number of lines of inquiry being progressed that we cannot discuss at this stage.”
The team working on the investigation remain “completely committed”, he continued.
“Our enquiries are focused around the people and vehicles that were in the vicinity of the Skripal’s address and leading up to where they fell ill in The Maltings,” Haydon added.
“We would ask anyone who may have information, or who may have seen or heard something – however small - to contact police on 101.”