The investigation into the disappearance of schoolgirl Sarah Payne cost almost £3 million.

Sussex Police spent nearly £2 million on wages for the 910 police officers and 112 members of police staff who were involved with the inquiry from the initial police response the day the report was made.

More than £800,000 was spent on overtime as officers carried out a painstaking search for the little girl.

By day 12 of the search for the eight-year-old schoolgirl the cost of the investigation had reached £250,000.

The cost of forensic science used to crack the case came to £415,689.

Forensics paid a vital role in the capture of Sarah's murderer Roy Whiting.

For 17 months forensic experts carried out painstaking work and found fibres and a single hair linking Whiting to the little girl.

It was these revelations which resulted in the jury convicting Whiting.

He was subsequently sentenced to life in prison.

Other costs, including vehicle costs and staff subsistence, came to £430,000.

The figures were released following a freedom of information request.

Sarah went missing in July 2000. She was snatched by Whiting from fields in Kingston Gorse near Littlehampton.

The Surrey schoolgirl had been visiting her grandparents and, on the day she went missing, had been playing with her two brothers and younger sister.

Sixteen days after she disappeared her body was found in a field 15 miles away from where she went missing, on a roadside between Pulborough and Billingshurst.

Chief Superintendent Kevin Moore, head of Sussex Police CID, said: "Inevitably, because of the difficulty factor, because of the public profile, because there are huge public reassurance concerns, there is the expectation that police will pull out all the stops and bring offenders to justice, and this comes at a cost.

"Fortunately these types of crime are very unusual."

He said Sarah's murder would have been given the unofficial categorisation A plus, which officers reserve for only the most serious of crimes.

The investigation would have involved staffing incident rooms, inquiry teams, house-to-house inquiries and major forensic work.

Police are charged for each item they send to forensics and the type of work they need carried out on each piece of evidence.

Mr Moore said: "I would bet most of the staffing costs would have gone on the major search operation and house-to-house enquiries.

"Searching large areas would have involved at least 200 officers. When someone goes missing in a field, as Sarah did, a large area has to be given a fingertip search."