Families of murder victims whose killers remain at large fear they will now never be caught – after police chiefs axed the cold case review team.
The successful specialist unit set up to examine unsolved cases – including murders and rapes – is to be shut down on cost grounds.
Police chiefs claim the cold case team is too expensive to run and have ‘disbanded’ the squad.
Today victims’ worried families said killers will ‘get away with murder’. Daniel Grainger, aged 22, whose mum Patricia was murdered in Parson Cross in 1997 when he was just a little boy, said: “I am shocked nobody informed us. Basically this means they are letting killers get away with murder.”
The unit achieved huge success in its first three years after being set up in 2007 – securing 11 convictions and prison sentences totalling 107 years. Detectives solved one murder, nine rapes, one indecent assault and one burglary.
Today police said cold cases remain ‘constantly under review’ and that each one has been assigned to an investigating officer – but admitted more current live investigations are the priority.
Ch Supt Rachel Barber, South Yorkshire Police’s Crime Manager, said: “We never lose sight of our unsolved cases and, while it is a blow to lose our dedicated cold case investigations team, working within budgetary constraints meant keeping the unit going was no longer financially feasible.
“The most appropriate way to manage this situation is to assign each case to an officer responsible for monitoring and chasing up any inquiries, should new information come to light.”
“However, our efforts and resources are primarily focused on active and emerging cases of serious crime.
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“These investigations are current, and pose a higher risk to the communities and public of South Yorkshire.”
She added: “We understand how difficult it must be for those families who have lost loved ones who don’t yet have any closure, but where new evidence or lines of inquiry are discovered, they should be assured these claims will be investigated and followed up.”
Daniel Grainger said it was ‘frightening’ to think killers are still out there.
“Now there’s less chance than ever before of them getting caught,” he said.
“I set up my own website and do my own inquiries, so there is a chance new leads may develop, but it really shouldn’t be down to families to solve cases.”
Among the unsolved murders still on South Yorkshire Police’s books is the gangland killing of 16-year-old Jonathan Matondo, gunned down near a children’s playground in Burngreave in 2007.
The killer of 25-year-old prostitute Michaela Hague, stabbed to death by a punter in the city centre in 2001, also remains at large.
And detectives in Sheffield have also never found the killer of takeaway owner Safrajur Jahangir, 23, shot dead as he delivered a takeaway in Shirecliffe 2009.
And the culprit who knifed 27-year-old Joshua Green to death on a dancefloor on Queens Road, Sheffield, in the early hours of New Year’s Day 2012 is also still at large.