£20,000 bill for police mistake

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By Cara Sulieman
POLICE spent almost £20,000 searching for a missing man when he lay dead in his own front garden.

Alan Goulden went missing from his Edinburgh home on August 30, sparking a ten-week hunt by Lothian and Borders Police.

Alan Goulden went missing from his Maybury home in August 2008.
Alan Goulden went missing from his Maybury home in August 2008.

During that time they spent £14,964 on overtime for the team of 19 officers who were tasked with finding the former RAF officer.

The force spent £1075 on advertising, taking out a full-page advert in a national newspaper and printing off posters that were distributed just days before Mr Goulden’s body was found by a pest controller.

Added to that was £523 for car hire and mileage, and £3138 for the help of outside agencies such as a Strathclyde Police helicopter and a Central Scotland Police diving team.

During the investigation, police scoured hours of CCTV footage from the Maybury area, trawled the River Almond, searched Cramond Island and searched the grounds of Lauriston Castle.

It was only when a pest controller went into the bushes at the front of the flats on November 7 that he stumbled upon the badly decomposed body slumped against the building.

The figures released through freedom of information have renewed anger over the bungled operation with many believing it is much more than money that is at risk.

Susie Squire, Campaign Manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “It defies belief that the police went to such lengths before thinking about checking the obvious places.

“To make sure missing people are protected in future, these processes have got to be sorted and made more efficient. This doesn’t just cost money, it could end up costing lives.”

Bill Aitken, the Conservative justice spokesman, feels that this latest revelation could leave Lothian and Borders in a difficult situation.

He said: “There was an enormous amount of money spent on this inquiry which, on the face of it, might have been better used in other directions.

“We have to await the results of the inquiry be Strathclyde Police, but if Mr Goulden could have been found at an earlier stage then serious questions are going to be asked of Lothian and Borders Police.”

Strathclyde Police is currently investigating Lothian and Borders in an attempt to find out what went wrong. As a result, they can say very little about the case.

A spokesman for the police said: “It was with great sadness the investigation launched to find the missing Alan Goulden resulted in the tragic circumstances of his discovery. The number of resources utilized by Lothian and Borders Police in this investigation was taken on the merit of the case itself.

“An external investigation into the practices of the force during a missing person investigation is currently being carried out by Strathclyde Police. As a result, we are unable to comment further.”

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