HAMPSHIRE police spent more than £16,000 on the search for cancer patient Ashya King when he first vanished, new figures have revealed.
A core of 12 officers worked at any one time during a six-day period between August 28 and September 2, in their hunt for the five-year-old.
Details released to The News reveal 40 staff and officers claimed £12,712.97 in overtime during that period.
Assistant Chief Constable Sara Glen said: ‘If we receive a report that there is imminent threat to the life of a child, we will act swiftly to provide a response to ensure that the child is located.
‘In such circumstances, we will use all necessary resources available and ensure that we work within our legal framework. Our priority was and always will be the welfare of the child. We are pleased to hear about reports of Ashya’s progress.’
But Ashya’s grandmother Patricia King, 77, of Southsea, said the amount spent was ridiculous.
She said: ‘It’s absolutely disgusting to spend all that money when there’s crime going on. It’s just a joke.
‘It was absolutely disgraceful chasing my son and putting him in prison.’
Cancer-sufferer Ashya’s parents Brett and Naghmeh, of Southsea, took him out of Southampton General Hospital without telling medics.
Police launched an international manhunt with specialist detectives working on the case in Netley.
Officers obtained a European Arrest Warrant, which Chief Constable Andy Marsh said was critical in finding Ashya. The Kings were arrested and imprisoned in Spain where they were found 48 hours after disappearing.
They were released three days later without charge before going on to get their son proton beam therapy in the Czech Republic.
Simon Hayes, Hampshire’s police and crime commissioner, said: ‘They were told by the hospital there was a missing boy whose life was in danger.
‘Had they not done it and said the cost was £16,000, I would have been very critical of them and I think so would a lot of the public. This is an example of what policing costs.’
The cost, released through the Freedom of Information Act, doe not account for officers, staff and duty hours for those who had peripheral involvement.
The £16,258 spend includes experts for the Crown Prosecution Service and is:
- Police officer overtime – £8,880.23.
- Police staff overtime – £3,832.74.
- Travel and parking – £132.81.
- Subsistence – £213.63.
- Accommodation – £ 1406.20.
- Flights – £792.48.
- Experts to inform the CPS – £900.
Ashya had a brain tumour, which surgeons in Southampton removed.
But a dispute arose about his aftercare, as his parents wanted him to have proton beam therapy.
The procedure is not available in the UK and at the time the NHS said it would not fund the treatment abroad. Ashya has now received the treatment.
A review by Portsmouth Safeguarding Children Board is due to report soon.