Mother: Met police force failed my son

Richard Okorogheye’s family rejects apology in wake of student’s death

Friday, 8th July — By Tom Foot

Evidence Joel

Evidence Joel: ‘It is of deep regret to me that… nobody will face misconduct proceedings’

THE family of a teenager who was found dead in woods has rejected a police apology after an independent investigation said officers provided an “unacceptable level of service”.

Richard Okorogheye, 19, was found in Epping Forest two weeks after he went missing from his home in Maida Vale in March last year.

The Oxford Brookes computer science university student had sickle cell anaemia and needed medication but the Metropolitan Police Service did not take the case seriously, initially recording him as “not missing”.

The police watchdog found a series of failings in the case that this week saw one of the MPS top brass say sorry.

But Richard’s mother Evidence Joel said on Wednesday the apology “is not accepted”, adding: “The Independent Office for Police Conduct has confirmed what I always knew; in the darkest period of my life I was dismissed by multiple Metropolitan police staff at all levels of seniority and my son’s disappearance was not taken seriously.”

She added: “It is a matter of deep regret to me that despite both the IOPC and Metropolitan police concluding that the performance of three police officers, including an inspector, and three call-handlers fell short of the standard expected, nobody will face misconduct proceedings.”

Richard Okorogheye

In the latest crisis to hit the MPS, which has been placed in “special measures”, the first time in its history, the IOPC found that student Mr Okorogheye was classed as low risk for too long. His ­sickle cell anaemia was wrongly recorded. The inspector was not updated about his condition as they did not understand the significance of the condition.

The inspector who made the initial assessment that Mr Okorogheye was “not missing” did not accurately record and explain why his condition was not considered to be an immediate health risk.

This week Deputy Assistant Commissioner Bas Javid said: “Our thoughts remain with Richard’s family and I would like to apologise for the distress caused by the substandard level of service, as highlighted by the Independent Office for Police Conduct. It is clear the service we provided in the days following Richard’s disappearance was not at a level the public would expect of us. We will address these issues directly with the officers and staff involved through additional enhanced training.

“We recognise how worrying it must be to not know where a loved one is, and we are challenging ourselves to do better at responding when someone does report a missing person.”

The investigation by the IOPC found six MPS employees, three officers and three members of police staff, should receive reflective practice, which will be delivered by way of enhanced training for those officers and staff.

None of the employees was found to have a case to answer for misconduct.

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