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Essex to consider missing person team following Owami Davies disappearance

A review into the actions of both the Met and Essex following the disappearance of Owami Davies has now concluded.

The review, carried out by senior officers from both forces, found that officers were in frequent contact with Owami’s family and also that Met showed compassion and care when they encountered Owami in Croydon on July 6 – the day she was reported missing.

The operation has been described as the biggest missing person investigation conducted by the Met this year.

Several learning points were also however identified – with nine recommendations produced for the Met and six for Essex.

Owami was first reported missing at 12:50 on July 6. Officers visited her home at 8.20 am the following morning which resulted in a delay in Owami’s details being added to the PNC.

The review found that the delay was due to Essex responding to two high-risk missing person investigations as well as an attempted murder investigation in the same policing district.

Owami was initially graded as medium risk – which was then escalated to high on July 15.

She was spoken to by officers on July 6 following a call from a member of the public. However, she had not yet been circulated on the PNC at this time due to the delay in Essex attending her home address. Owami had also declined to give her details to the officers.

During the course of the investigation, the Met published several appeals for information, one of which featured an image of a different woman.

The review concluded that this mistake was due to human error and that there was no evidence of racial bias.

Members of the Central Race Independent Advisory Group as well as IAGs in Croydon and West Thurrock were given information during the investigation and were asked to scrutinise actions and challenge if necessary.

Following the review process, the IAGs has said they are satisfied there is no evidence of racial bias.

The review concluded nonetheless that the handover between Essex and the Met could have been “more efficient and effective”. It follows identifying challenges including Essex securing fast time enquiries, resources and assistance from the Met as well as the handover of information held within media departments.

Subsequent recommendations include that the MPS devise a suitable operational handover document and that the NPCC lead for family liaison reconsiders whether non-detective officers can be trained as Family Liaison Officers to assist when there’s increased demand.

Meanwhile, Essex has been asked to recirculate policy on placing missing people on the PNC and to consider forming a missing person team.

£123,000 was spent on additional costs for the operation (such as overtime and IT) – the figure does not include officers on the operation as part of their rostered duties.

Owami was found on August 23 following a member of the public contacting the police after having seen the appeals.

Met Commander Paul Brogden said:  “As with any large policing operation, we have worked with our advisory groups to review our actions. I'm pleased that their feedback was largely positive, both about the officers involved and our handling of the investigation.

"The review did identify some important learning points, including how a missing person enquiry is transferred from one force to another to ensure work isn't duplicated and any urgent enquiries are carried out as swiftly as possible.”

Essex Deputy Chief Constable Andy Prophet said: “In Essex, sadly, every day someone goes missing. Each of these missing people has a different story and each search brings unique investigative challenge. However, what remains the same is our commitment to find them and bring them home safely. That’s what happens in the majority of incidents. 

“If we can do something better and improve our response to loved ones and to the person who is missing, we will do it. We will make sure we share information faster with other forces and with the health service or local people."

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