POLICE officers’ leave requests following the massive Novichok incident will be managed to ensure no teams across the force are left in the lurch, Wiltshire’s police and crime commissioner has said.

Leave was cancelled following the poisoning of Amesbury couple Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley in July.

Wiltshire Police’s overtime bill has topped £1.3m, as officers worked extra shifts to secure areas in Salisbury and Amesbury connected to the investigation of how the couple came into contact with the nerve agent.

Officers from Swindon were among those sent to support the counter-terrorism operation in the south of the county.

Asked if he expected a sudden exodus of officers at the end of the summer, as exhausted staff took well-earned breaks, police and crime commissioner Angus Macpherson said leave could be staggered to ensure appropriate cover in the county.

Wiltshire Police estimates it has spent or will end up spending £10m on the operation. It includes the expected £347,000 cost of replacing marked and unmarked police vehicles destroyed over fears of potential contamination with Novichok. Police refused to say how many vehicles were destroyed, but it is the equivalent of 25 patrol cars or 11 high-performance cars driven by traffic police.

Mr Macpherson sought to reassure Swindon Advertiser readers that the burden of the investigation had been borne by teams across Wiltshire: “The impact of the event has been equal across the whole county and it hasn’t been borne by any one particular part of our county. We’ve had officers from all over the county working on it and we’ve spent £1.3million on overtime for officers.

“We have been very lucky to have those officers from 40 other forces, which has meant we haven’t had to extract people from our community policing teams. A lot of it’s been covered by over time and other forces coming in.”