§ Mr. Paul Marsden
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the progress made in the Hilda Murrell murder investigation. 
§ Mr. Denham
A major crime review of the 1984 murder enquiry into the death of Hilda Murrell was launched in April 2002. It is being conducted in line with West Mercia Police force policy and guidance from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), issued in 1998, which states that undetected major crimes should be periodically reviewed. The review is proceeding according to plan.100W
The objectives of the review, drawn up by West Mercia Police force's Chief Officers, are:
- 1 To attempt to identify and report on what investigative opportunities exist within the current enquiry that may assist in detecting the crime.
- 2 To ensure the existing enquiry paper, audio, exhibits and other documents are maintained in the best possible state for subsequent investigative action and review.
- 3 To produce a report with recommendations for further action.
I understand that in order to ensure that the potential of the review is fully explored, experts from a range of fields including the National Crime Operations Faculty (CENTREX)—are being consulted.
The original enquiry was paper-based and pre-dated the HOLMES computerised enquiry system. It ran for over two years, nearly 3,000 statements were taken, over 2,500 exhibits seized or referred to and many thousands of other documents contained within the investigation file. A significant part of the review involves capturing the case information on modern computerised systems to allow more efficient analysis. Whilst this process is ongoing other material held by the enquiry is being assessed and reviewed for forensic potential and opportunities.
Due to the size and complexity of the review, the process of data capture will not be completed before the end of 2002. The forensic review will require a staged submission of identified items, and it is therefore difficult to accurately predict when that process will be complete. However, the current estimate is the last quarter of 2003 at the earliest.