We are currently experiencing network problems with the desktop version of Police Oracle. We hope to have these resolved as soon as possible.

IOPC identifies 'missed opportunity' in GMP's search for missing man

John Winterton was reported missing on August 19, 2021 and found dead by officers in Wythenshawe Park on August 25.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) officers may have been found a missing man sooner had there not been a delay in analysing his mobile phone data.

The IOPC has identified learning to improve the force's response to missing person investigations in the future, having assessed its approach to the search for John Winterton.

Mr Winterton, 26, was found dead by officers in Wythenshawe Park on August 25, 2021 - six days after being reported missing.

The IOPC independently investigated GMP's response to the missing person report after the force made a mandatory referral, speaking to those involved, reviewing BWV footage and reviewing all steps taken.

It found that officers obtained Mr Winterton’s mobile phone data on August 19 which, once fully analysed, identified the approximate last known location of his phone - the same place he was eventually found by officers. 

However, a delay in accessing specialist support meant this information was not available to investigating officers until August 25.

IOPC Regional Director Catherine Bates said: “Our investigation was independent of the police and found officers were in possession of data on day one of the investigation that, had they analysed it sooner, may have led to Mr Winterton being found more quickly. 

"Although the inquest found this was unlikely to have changed the tragic outcome, it may have lessened the considerable distress felt by his family during this difficult time had the search been concluded sooner."

The inquest, which concluded on May 30, found that Mr Winterton died by suicide.

GMP was informed of the missed opportunity to find him sooner at the end of the IOPC investigation in July 2022.

Ms Bates said that while there was no indication that the standards of professional behaviour had been breached, two areas of learning were identified for GMP.

It recommended that officers and staff be reminded of the investigative opportunities provided by phone data, as well as the resources available for analysing the data. 

Secondly, the force has been asked to update its policy for handling high-risk missing person investigations after the IOPC found there were delays in consulting and appointing a police search advisor in this case.

Leave a Comment
View Comments 3
In Other News
Online Safety Bill a game-changer in fight against CSA 'pandemic'
UK’s first legalised drug consumption room approved
The latest (2023) stop and search and arrest statistics
More News