Police budget stretched by ‘Essex Lion’ Hunt

18 August 2013

Whilst it was a source of considerable amusement for the British public at large and the sort of gold dust that every newspaper or news desk editor dreams of, it has unfortunately meant considerable expenditure on what now seems to have been a well intentioned case of mistaken identity. 

Police had despatched more than 30 officers and spent over £3,000 on helicopter time with officers' overtime being paid to provide sufficient officers to mount the search for the 'lion'.  

The search began on the 26th August 2012 in St Osyth following the report of what was believed to be a lion having been seen in the area.  Following a BBC News freedom of information request, Essex Police said that it did not know how much in total the search had cost.  However the Force has confirmed that 31 officers were 'deployed at various times during the incident' and an Incident Command Team had also been set up to oversee the search. 

A local cat owner, Ginny Murphy, provided one possible explanation for the sighting, claiming that the animal seen was her pet cat 'Teddy Bear' who is a ginger Maine Coon cat which is the largest domestic breed, and who spends a lot of time wandering in the field where the 'lion' was spotted.