A SPATE of major inquiries has left police struggling to cope.
Two alleged murders in Crewe and Nantwich, plus three more across Cheshire, are stretching resources to breaking point.
Warehouse worker Colin Jones, 27, of Rigg Street, Crewe, died after being stabbed while walking home from a night out in the West End on August 18.
Former hotel worker Timothy Davenport, 36, of no fixed abode, has been charged with murdering the father-of-two.
On September 8, musician Daniel Bell, 23, of Wistaston, died from a stab wound outside a house in Nantwich.
Steven Lynn, of Shrewbridge Road, Nantwich, has appeared in court charged with his murder.
A spokeswoman for Cheshire Police said: 'This is an unprecedented number of murder inquiries for the constabulary to be investigating concurrently.
'The inquiries involve a substantial number of officers across the force so over the next few months other cases may be affected.
'We may not be able to put as much time into matters such as gathering intelligence to target persistent offenders.
'It also means it may take us longer to get out and take witness statements. For example, it may be a day or two before we get to speak to the victim of a burglary.
'But we do not believe detections will be affected. This is only likely to affect how quickly we can put cases together.
'We still have staff to detect crimes. Our resources are just spread very thinly at the moment.'
The other alleged murders in the county include the death of 27-year-old Jody Burns in June at Runcorn. Again in Runcorn, 41-year old Wayne Shaw died in August in his hospital bed, seven weeks after an alleged assault.
Last month Bill Ney, 41, of Derbyshire, died in hospital four days after an incident in Chester city centre.
Charges have been brought in all but one of the murder cases, but the spokeswoman said there remained a great deal of work to be done.
* CHESHIRE Police are looking to recruit more than 200 officers before April.
The vacancies have arisen from natural wastage, retirements and the allocation of officers under the Government's Crime Fighting Fund.
The force will be holding evenings to give prospective recruits an insight into the job.
The constabulary also offers opportunities for officers to develop into specialised areas such as dog handling, air support, CID, training and community policing.
For more information call 01244 614021.