Belfast Telegraph

Anti-terror operation linked to Larne-born Marine cost £1.1m

By Cate McCurry

An anti-terror search operation that led to the arrest of a Royal Marine from Co Antrim cost a police force in England more than £1.1m, it has emerged.

Ciaran Maxwell (30), who is from Larne, is accused of stashing explosives and weapons in purpose-built caches in England and Northern Ireland.

Maxwell, who had an address in Exminster, Devon, also allegedly compiled a library of terrorism documents, including instructions on how to make explosives and tactics used by terrorist organisations.

The extensive search operation carried out near Exeter on behalf of the Metropolitan Police at the end of last year cost Devon and Cornwall Police £1.1m.

Police were asked to search woodland in August after the arrest of Maxwell.

The force has applied for a refund for the money it spent on the operation.

The cost includes £660,000 Devon and Cornwall had to pay other forces to borrow officers to help with the search, while also paying its own staff £320,000 in overtime.

The cost of hotel bills for the 18-day operation amounted to £82,000, and catering added a further £38,000.

The search took 34,000 officer hours, or 2,800 officer days, and 70 miles of blue and white police cordon tape was used during the operation.

The figures, which were revealed following a BBC Freedom of Information request, show that the operation involved 2,000 nights of accommodation and 8,500 meals.

Maxwell, who lived in Devon with his partner and a young child, will face a trial, starting on February 27.

The 30-year-old was arrested last August on suspicion of terrorism offences.

Nigel Rabbitts, chairman of the Police Federation in Devon and Cornwall, which represents rank-and-file officers, said: "This spending on a national policing operation has to be returned to Devon and Cornwall for policing needs here."

Devon and Cornwall Police has applied to the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) for a refund, and said it was "confident it will be reimbursed".

The NPCC said the application was being processed.

The PSNI travelled to England and cordoned off an area in Powderham New Plantation, a wooded area in Exminster, while surrounding roads were closed.

The Marine was arrested by counter-terrorism officers from the Metropolitan Police on suspicion of being involved in the preparation of acts of terrorism.

A search was conducted by Met and local uniform officers at an address in Exminster.

The inquiry is linked to the discovery of two suspected dissident republican arsenals in forest parks in Northern Ireland last year.

In March the PSNI uncovered a "significant terrorist hide" including bomb-making paraphernalia at Carnfunnock Country Park near Larne.

In May it uncovered a further collection of explosives and bomb parts at Capanagh Forest, also close to Larne. It is alleged that between January 1, 2011 and August 24, 2016, Maxwell manufactured explosive substances and constructed explosive devices.

Maxwell is also charged with getting an image of an adapted PSNI pass card, and items of a police uniform.

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