Cordon lifted at Queen Elizabeth gardens

24 August 2018, 10:02 | Updated: 24 August 2018, 16:04

Salisbury poisoning

A cordon which was put in place at Queen Elizabeth Gardens in Salisbury as part of the Novichok investigation, has been lifted.

Searches have been taking place for since July 5th after it was confirmed that Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley had visited the area before falling ill. 

A small section of the park was closed while the Counter Terrorism Policing investigation team conducted their enquiries, while a larger section of the park was closed as a highly precautionary measure. 

The CTP have concluded their investigations in the area and prior to the park reopening, precautionary search activity has taken place, led by Wiltshire Police, which has included meticulous and methodical fingertip searches of the areas of highest congregation including the children's playpark, the garden area, and around bins, benches and signs. 

The remaining areas of the park were then sectioned off and systematically searched by officers with a maximum of a one metre gap between them. Any litter or objects found were collected and consideration was given as to whether or not each item could be important to the investigation. 

The police water search team from Devon and Cornwall Police also conducted a thorough search of the shallow stream adjacent to the children's play park and were able to remove a lot of broken glass and other discarded items. They also conducted searches along the banks of the River Nadder and River Avon that flow through the gardens within the cordon, collecting discarded objects and litter from the river bank. 

Deputy Chief Constable Paul Mills said: "Today marks a milestone in terms of our ongoing response to the incident. 

"Alongside the Counter Terrorism Policing Network (CTPN), we have worked methodically and meticulously to assess if there was anything of relevance in the park to the investigation and ensure that there was no wider risk to the public. 

"Queen Elizabeth Gardens has been searched by specially trained officers and the results reviewed. 

"Decontamination activity was conducted, is now complete and the site is safe and can be returned to public use. 

"Further to that process, and further to the thorough searches that have taken place, we are satisfied that the park and gardens pose no risk to the public and can now be fully reopened for the public to once again enjoy. 

"I would like to, on behalf of all the partnership agencies involved in the response to this incident, thank the public for their patience and support whilst the cordons have been in place." 

Alistair Cunningham, Chair of the South Wiltshire Recovery Coordinating Group, said: "I am really pleased Queen Elizabeth Gardens, which is a really popular open space in the city centre, has been reopened for community use. 

"Its closure has had an impact on footfall into the city and its reopening is an important and positive step for the city moving forward and getting back to normal."