The Metropolitan Police Service will apologise to the family of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry for the way officers responded when the sisters were reported missing.
The findings of an Independent Office for Police Conduct report say the level of service provided over the weekend when the sisters went missing in June 2020 was below the standard that it should have been.
In July teenager Danyal Hussein was convicted of murdering the women in the early hours of Saturday, 6 June 2020, stabbing both to death in Fryent Country Park, Wembley.
The parents of 46-year-old Bibaa Henry and 27-year-old Nicole Smallman are Chris and Wilhelmina Smallman, known as Mina, who live in Ramsgate.
Mina is a retired British Anglican priest and was appointed as a trustee to Ramsgate’s Project MotorHouse in 2017.
Mina has dismissed the apology, telling the BBC that the Met’s actions suggested signs of ‘racial profiling, misogyny or classism’ and adding: “The investigation was not handled appropriately. The apology should have been done face-to-face and not nearly 10 months later.”
Commissioner Cressida Dick said: “My thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of Nicole and Bibaa for their tragic losses.
“The way we responded to information that Nicole and Bibaa were missing that weekend was below the standard we should have achieved and compounded the distress felt by their loved ones.
“While we know that very sadly Nicola and Bibaa had been murdered in the early hours of Saturday, 6 June 2020, before they were reported missing, if we had responded better we may have saved their friends and family immeasurable pain.
“I am very sorry that the level of service we provided fell short. We have contacted the family to ask if they will allow me or, if they prefer, another senior officer to visit them at a time that is right to apologise in person.”
The MPS made a mandatory referral to the IOPC around how it responded when the sisters were reported missing. The IOPC then launched an independent investigation.
As a result of the findings an inspector, from the North West Command, and a member of police staff, a communications supervisor attached to Met Command and Control at Lambeth, must undertake ‘unsatisfactory performance procedures’. They will both attend formal meetings to discuss their performance and appropriate action going forward.
A second member of police staff, a call handler based at Met Command and Control at Hendon, will receive ‘management action’. This means they will have a performance discussion with their line manager around what they can learn from this matter and how they can improve.
Following calls on the evening of 6 June to report the sisters missing, a police log was created and a missing persons investigation opened for Nicole, and then the following day for Bibaa.
The IOPC investigation found that the inspector closed the police logs after receiving information about the sisters’ possible whereabouts from a family member. This information suggested she was not overly concerned about them and would call back in the morning if needed. The inspector believed the information provided was a justifiable explanation for the sisters’ disappearance.
However, this information had been inaccurately recorded on the police log by the communications supervisor.
The closure of the police logs did not close the missing persons report at that time created for Nicole, but did prevent the deployment of officers to Nicole’s home. The inspector subsequently did not properly progress missing persons enquiries for Nicola or Bibaa.
The inspector told the investigation that this had been one of the most challenging shifts of his career with 16 missing persons reports open and the North West Command Unit under capacity by almost 50 per cent during the Covid pandemic.
A call handler, also a member of police staff, based at Met Command and Control at Hendon, will receive ‘management action’ for the conversation they had and their “dismissive” response when a friend of one of the sisters called police. This means they will have a performance discussion with their line manager around the learning from this matter.
The IOPC investigation considered whether the police response was affected by the sisters’ ethnicity. After a comprehensive examination of police records, no evidence was found of stereotyping or biased assumptions based on the sisters’ race or where they lived.
The IOPC also recommended the Met Police review the processes and separate computer systems used by different call handlers, and consider whether further training should be provided to ensure all fully understand how systems operate that they might not use as frequently.
The Met says they have already addressed this recommendation by producing an enhanced training information pack for all call operators.
The IOPC is considering further recommendations; these considerations are ongoing.
This is yet another example of the true nature of the police. Far from protecting us, the police are a daily threat to women, people of colour, travellers and Roma, LGBT+ and of course those that resist the state be it the state’s wars abroad or workers resistance at home.
Recently,we have seen the police involved in misogynistic behaviour from rape and murder,sexual harassment,corruption, membership of proscribed far right terror groups,and police brutality towards protesters. Whether the mainstream media cover any of this,other than the “big ones”, is a moot point. But social media has shone a light on the dark underbelly of the police.
In the final analysis, the police are nothing but the blue suited troops of capitalism there to protect the state and its interests.
The spirit of Citizen Smith is obviously alive and well in Thanet (“The Thanet Popular Front” anyone?).
Seriously though, the behavior of these particular policeman was absolutely appalling.
Well spotted. The term “blue suited troops of capitalism” is indeed from Citizen Smith. I think that description is great and have used it ever since I first heard it.
How long before Dave Spart, Co-Chair of the Midwest Alliance for Fascist-Free Society makes an appearance?
The Met Police-found to be institutionally racist, institutionally corrupt & no doubt they are also institutionally incompetent. They seem to employ racists, women haters, rapists/sex offenders & juvenile morons who think that posing for selfies with murder victims & then sharing the images with other officers in private groups is somehow acceptable & funny.
Does make you wonder how much of this goes on undetected-is is standard police practice when called to the scene of a death or murder to sneak pictures on their mobiles & then share them around for their own so called amusement?
Funny that Dick who managed to climb through the ranks to her exhalted position-despite making the call to fire a bullet into an innocent man’s head on a train in 2005 has had all this time to say sorry, yet as is always the case is only interested in doing so when there is a massive swell of people calling for her to be fired.
Maybe she could also say sorry for the officers who decided to take ‘selfies’ with the bodies & share them with colleagues on an app group. Perhaps also say sorry to Sarah Everard’s family for the officer who thought it would be a good idea to make a meme of a dead woman in a forest during the search for her & sharing that with his colleagues-of course he kept his job as well.
The only difference between many Met Police and the the vermin that cause so much violence and damage to people’s lives is,they wear uniforms(unless it is the corrupt CID,of course)
I (generally) admire the police myself. Wish we saw them walking/cycling about like we used to though!
Apparently they don’t police that way any longer-now they all hide away in offices being more ‘productive’ & just rush to 999 calls. That kind of policing is now done on the cheap with the community support officers-who have very limited powers.
PC Dixon and PC 49 were in the Met, but while those lovable fictitious policemen were on the beat, young men with learning difficulties were being strung up (Derek Bentley)as response to the death of a copper caused by someone who was underage, by the use of joint enterprise, and graft and corruption was rife in parts of London, especially in the vice trade, at the time.
Policing can only work by consent. If the Met does not reform, root and branch, it will lose that consent. If that happens, then you end up with a gendarmerie, where there is a substantial use of firearms to quell public disorder. Is that what we want Policing as per Russia, the PRC and other authoritarian states?
This was outrageous, and the Met are not fit for purpose! No one should accept an apology unless the person making it asks for forgiveness, and is genuinely contrite! Its not acceptable saying you are sorry just because you have been caught out! I have two serious complaints in against the police, that have been outstanding for several months! They have both been entered as being “Formally Recorded” but no action appears to have been taken, except an occasional telephone call saying the investigation is still underway! Why? My complaints are not spurious, and need to be taken seriously, so remedial action can be taken to ensure the problems I identified can never occur again to the detriment of the public!
I logged on to write a comment, but the situation is just so bad (not just in this case), I don’t know what to write.
Best wishes to the family.
Like you Steve I want an explanation for the silence over those disgusting selfies taken by the police. All we get is silence on that score. Says it all really
They hide behind “gallows humour” as a defence.
“It’s only bad egg” is another classic the police, Media and Politicians roll out each time the police create another avoidable atrocity. I have zero faith in the police protecting me or the other law aiding citizens around me. The real truth is in most areas most people of country respect the laws and it’s the only thing stopping real madness.
The police force needs a complete overhaul and a complete personal audit of their staff and their attitudes. Many of those at the top need to go. They for years have ignored report after report that have found institutional issues and the problems are getting worse and more harmful.
The real truth is that there are more bad eggs than good.
I heard Chief Inspector Rhiannon Pepper, Commander of Thanet Police has been promoted out of the way, and is now flying a desk as an Acting Superintendent, any idea if this is true Kathy?