Corrie Mckeague police inquiry had 'limited resources'

Corrie Mckeague Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Corrie Mckeague, from Dunfermline, Fife, was last seen at 03:25 on 24 September 2016

Police conducted "exemplary" work in their search for the missing RAF airman Corrie Mckeague despite "limited resources", a report has found.

The 23-year-old vanished following a night out in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, in September 2016.

A review of Suffolk Police's inquiry, released to the BBC, described assessing 2,000 hours of CCTV footage as a "significant achievement".

The report was sent to the force in October but never made public.

Significant chunks of the document have been redacted, including large portions dealing with an error in the weight of material carried on a bin lorry which collected waste from the area in which Mr Mckeague was last seen.

The review, carried out by police in the East Midlands on behalf of Suffolk Police, makes 14 recommendations including viewing CCTV from a wider area.

Image caption The review made 14 recommendations on Suffolk Police's inquiry into the disappearance of Corrie Mckeague

Other points identified included:

  • Collecting witness statements in relation to waste collections made on 26 September 2016
  • Consideration be given to reviewing officer training in major investigations
  • Reintroduction of investigative briefings held within the force at least every week
  • A search of the Red Lodge waste transfer centre (where the waste was first taken before sent on to landfill) and its surrounding area should take place
  • The continuation of searches at the Milton landfill site in Cambridgeshire

Mr Mckeague, a gunner based at RAF Honington, was last seen on CCTV in Bury St Edmunds, in the early hours of Saturday 24 September 2016.

The mystery of the airman who disappeared

The 33-page review, marked "official' sensitive", supports the police theory he climbed into a waste bin in the Horseshoe area and was "disposed of through the waste disposal process".

Image copyright PA
Image caption This is the second time the landfill site at Milton has been searched for the missing airman

The search of the landfill site at Milton, Cambridgeshire, restarted in October after a search there ended earlier in the year.

The report included details of the investigation but had some details, along with witness statements, removed.

'Phenomenal work'

"Suffolk Constabulary have conducted a thorough investigation into this high-risk missing person report, and demonstrated a clear determination to locate Corrie Mckeague by exploring all reasonable lines of inquiry," the report said.

"The inquiries conducted and the search operation conducted at Milton landfill site have been exemplary, and testament to the efforts of those involved."

The report added: "Considering the competing demands on the force during the period of this investigation, a phenomenal amount of work has been completed by limited resources."

The report estimated 2,000 hours of CCTV had been reviewed as part of the investigation, which had cost £1.2m by July.

Image copyright Suffolk constabulary
Image caption Mr Mckeague was last seen on CCTV in Bury St Edmunds

"With the limited resources available, this is a significant achievement," the report said.

"The identification of a large number of individuals who were in the town centre of Bury St Edmunds on the night Corrie disappeared also demonstrates the effort and commitment of those involved in the CCTV investigation."

But it said the "identification of initial wider time parameters for the seizure of CCTV may have assisted the investigation".

After receiving the report in October, Suffolk Police said it showed officers had "conducted a thorough, methodical and detailed investigation".

The force confirmed it had carried out a search of the Red Lodge waste transfer site in October.

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