Taxpayers may have to fund the Yorkshire Ripper’s funeral, unless alternative arrangements are made by his family.
Peter Sutcliffe, once one of the most feared criminals in the country, died in hospital aged 74 after reportedly refusing treatment for coronavirus.
He had been serving a whole life term at the maximum-security Frankland jail for the murders of 13 women and the attempted murder of seven more.
But following his death of Friday, up to £3,000 of his basic funeral expenses may now have to be covered by the Prison Service.
Under the Prison Service Instruction 64/2011 directive, prisons “must offer” to pay a contribution towards “reasonable” funeral expenses for inmates who die in custody.
Reasonable expenses include the cost of a coffin, burial or cremation, hearse, and funeral fees.
However the money cannot be used to pay for a headstone, flowers, wake or an obituary notice.
The directions, issued by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), state the only exception where a contribution does not need to be offered is when the family has a pre-paid funeral plan, or if they are entitled to claim a grant from a different Government department.
It is understood that discussions are ongoing with his family around the arrangements.
In 2015, it was revealed that the Prison Service spent £2,686 on the funeral of notorious child-chiller Raymond Morris who died behind bars.
Morris, originally from Walsall, died at HMP Preston in March 2014 while serving a life sentence for the rape and murder of a seven-year-old girl whose body was found on Cannock Chase in 1967.
The funeral details were revealed following a Freedom of Information Act request to the MoJ by the Birmingham-based Sunday Mercury.
The Prison Service is not the only authority that has to pay for funerals in certain circumstances.
Councils in the UK are also required to cover costs when someone dies and there is no traceable family or anyone who is willing to pay for a funeral.
The average cost of these so-called pauper’s funerals – or public health funerals – to councils was £1,507 in 2018/19, according to findings by life insurance firm Royal London.
Sutcliffe, whose killing spree across Yorkshire and Manchester from 1975 to 1980 terrified Northern England and launched a huge manhunt and a botched police inquiry, died at the University Hospital of North Durham.
Born in Bingley, West Yorkshire, in 1946, Sutcliffe left school aged 15 and worked in menial jobs before becoming a grave digger.
He began his killing spree in 1975 and avoided detection for years due to a series of missed opportunities by police to snare him.
He eventually confessed in 1981 after he was caught in Sheffield.