Three years and £12 million later, London's Metropolitan police has ended its 24/7 surveillance of the Ecuadorian embassy, through which officers kept vigil for the day that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange would leave the building.
Assange made chumps of the Met when he escaped to the embassy wearing a funny wig and sunglasses, slipping out under their nose. Since then, officers have stood at every entrance to the embassy, waiting for Assange to try it again.
Now, saying that the effort is "no longer proportionate to commit officers to a permanent presence," the Met has ended the detail, but say that their operation to arrest Assange will "continue and should he leave the embassy the MPS will make every effort to arrest him."
The Met has an incredibly high rate of officers arrested every year, and lacks the resources to pursue burglars and other criminals who victimise ordinary people.
A spokesperson added: "While no tactics guarantee success in the event of Julian Assange leaving the embassy, the MPS will deploy a number of overt and covert tactics to arrest him.
This decision has not been taken lightly, and the MPS has discussed it with the Home Office and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
"A significant amount of time has passed since Julian Assange entered the embassy and despite the efforts of many people, there is no imminent prospect of a diplomatic or legal resolution to this issue. The MPS has to balance the interests of justice in this case with the ongoing risks to the safety of Londoners and all those we protect, investigating crime and arresting offenders wanted for serious offences, in deciding what a proportionate response is.
"Like all public services, MPS resources are finite. With so many different criminal, and other, threats to the city it protects, the current deployment of officers is no longer believed proportionate."
Police stop 24/7 monitoring of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at Ecuadorian Embassy
[Ewan Palmer/International Business Times]
(Image: Assange speech at Ecuador embassy, Poiesia, CC-BY-SA)