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Police bill for novichok investigations tops £10m

Sky News logo Sky News 09/08/2018
Specialist teams arrive at Mr Rowley's house © Getty Specialist teams arrive at Mr Rowley's house

The cost of dealing with the novichok poisonings in Salisbury and Amesbury has cost Wiltshire Police more than £10m.

The force was plunged into a complex investigation on 4 March after former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found poisoned by the deadly nerve agent in Salisbury.

Two months later, it found itself facing a second high-level incident when Dawn Sturgess and her partner Charlie Rowley were exposed to the chemical just eight miles away in Amesbury.

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 09:  Assistant Commissioner of Specialist Operations Neil Basu at New Scotland Yard reads a statement to the media outside New Scotland Yard on July 9, 2018 in London, England. Police have launched a murder enquiry after Dawn Sturgess, 44, died after being exposed to the nerve agent Novichok. In March, Russian former spy Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia were poisoned with the Russian-made Novichok in the town of Salisbury.  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images) © Getty LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 09: Assistant Commissioner of Specialist Operations Neil Basu at New Scotland Yard reads a statement to the media outside New Scotland Yard on July 9, 2018 in London, England. Police have launched a murder enquiry after Dawn Sturgess, 44, died after being exposed to the nerve agent Novichok. In March, Russian former spy Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia were poisoned with the Russian-made Novichok in the town of Salisbury. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Officers from more than 40 other police forces were drafted in to deal with the investigations, help which is estimated to have cost Wiltshire Police more than £7m.

The force also spent more than £1.3m on paying its own officers for overtime and cancelled leave.

"For our force to find itself at the centre of two major incidents in such a short space of time is somewhat unimaginable and we have endured significant costs because of the scale of the investigation," Wiltshire police and crime commissioner Angus Macpherson said.

Police officers stand guard at a residential house in Amesbury, southern England, on July 7, 2018. - The exposure of an apparently random British couple to the same nerve agent used against former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal, in the same part of southwest England, has sent officials scrambling to discover the source of the contamination. (Photo by NIKLAS HALLE'N / AFP)        (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images) © Getty Police officers stand guard at a residential house in Amesbury, southern England, on July 7, 2018. - The exposure of an apparently random British couple to the same nerve agent used against former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal, in the same part of southwest England, has sent officials scrambling to discover the source of the contamination. (Photo by NIKLAS HALLE'N / AFP) (Photo credit should read NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP/Getty Images)

"I fully expect all costs associated with these unparalleled incidents to be met by the government."

The government believes the Skripals were poisoned in a targeted attack by Russia, and that Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley came into contact with novichok that had been discarded by those responsible.

Ms Sturgess did not survive her exposure to the deadly chemical and died in hospital.

SALISBURY, ENGLAND - JULY 06: Emergency workers in protective suits search around John Baker House Sanctuary Supported Living after a major incident was declared when a man and woman were exposed to the Novichok nerve agent on July 6, 2018 in Salisbury, England. The couple, named locally as Dawn Sturgess 44, and Charlie Rowley, 45 were taken to Salisbury District Hospital on Saturday and remain there in a critical condition. In March, Russian former spy Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia were poisoned with the Russian-made Novichok in the town of Salisbury. British Prime Minister Theresa May has accused Russia of being behind the attack on the former spy and his daughter, expelling 23 Russian diplomats in retaliation.(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images) © Getty SALISBURY, ENGLAND - JULY 06: Emergency workers in protective suits search around John Baker House Sanctuary Supported Living after a major incident was declared when a man and woman were exposed to the Novichok nerve agent on July 6, 2018 in Salisbury, England. The couple, named locally as Dawn Sturgess 44, and Charlie Rowley, 45 were taken to Salisbury District Hospital on Saturday and remain there in a critical condition. In March, Russian former spy Sergei Skripal and his 33-year-old daughter Yulia were poisoned with the Russian-made Novichok in the town of Salisbury. British Prime Minister Theresa May has accused Russia of being behind the attack on the former spy and his daughter, expelling 23 Russian diplomats in retaliation.(Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

The response to the incident involved cordoning off, searching and decontaminating areas in both Amesbury and Salisbury, including public spaces like parks and the Maltings shopping centre, and residential streets where the victims lived.

It was reported on Monday that the government was seeking the extradition of two Russians over the novichok attacks - but Sky News understands that attempts to bring the suspects to the UK are not as advanced as had been believed.

Watch: This is how nerve agents attack (Provided by USA Today)

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