Gosport War Memorial Hospital deaths: Crime commissioner insists top cop leaving will not 'disrupt or delay' progess

Assistant Chief Constable Nick Downing, Head of the Serious Crime Directorate for Kent Police and Essex Police, gives a statement to the media about Gosport hospital scandal at the Ferneham Hall in Fareham. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
Assistant Chief Constable Nick Downing, Head of the Serious Crime Directorate for Kent Police and Essex Police, gives a statement to the media about Gosport hospital scandal at the Ferneham Hall in Fareham. Picture: Andrew Matthews/PA Wire
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A CRIME commissioner has insisted the retirement of the senior officer investigating  456 patients’ deaths will not ‘disrupt or delay progess’.

Hampshire’s Michael Lane issued his statement a day after The News revealed assistant chief constable Nick Downing is leaving for ‘personal reasons’.

No further details have been given although Kent police, where Mr Downing is based, said he recently completed 30 years’ service.

The criminal probe is being carried out by the Eastern Policing Area after Hampshire police’s three probes into deaths between 1987 and 2001 were criticised.

READ MORE: Shock as top cop Nick Downing who is leading criminal probe 'retires for personal reasons'

A report last year found opioids were prescribed ‘without justification’ and around 650 patients had their lives shortened.

‘I want to add my voice to reassuring the families and all those involved with the current investigation at Gosport War Memorial Hospital that a change in the policing lead of this investigation will not be allowed to disrupt or delay progress with this important work.

‘I have been regularly briefed by the chief constable on progress made by the independent team, and the recruitment of a candidate to take on the policing lead. I am delighted that DAC Neil Jerome has been appointed – an appointment that reflects the importance this high profile investigation has and merits.

‘As police and crime commissioner, I have also been clear that costs must not be an issue in terms of limiting the appropriate scope and pace of this investigation, and that operational capacity must also be maintained.

‘I am glad therefore that my bid for additional funding has been accepted by the Home Office to ensure there is no conflict of priority and resourcing.’