Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC - formerly IPCC)
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IPCC managed investigation identifies lessons to be learned

An Independent Police Complaints Commission managed investigation into how Greater Manchester Police responded to concerns about the welfare of a 15-year-old has concluded that lessons need to be learned from the incident.

The investigation did conclude that, although no individual officer had committed misconduct, there had been unacceptable delays in responding to 999 calls from the girl’s mother.

However, despite these delays the investigation identified that even with a prompt police response it would have been unlikely that any of the sexual activity the girl became involved with could have been prevented.

As a result of the investigation findings it has been recommended that the girl and her mother are offered an apology by Greater Manchester Police.

The investigation, which was conducted by Greater Manchester Police’s Professional Standards Branch and managed by the IPCC, identified the girl’s mother had made an emergency call to GMP to report her missing at 10:48pm on 17 April 2009.

The girl had a history of going missing from home. Her mother had reported her missing to Bolton Police on five occasions between 14 June 2008 and 7 March 2009.

The mother made a further 999 call at 2:49am on 18 April to advise she believed her daughter was at risk of sexual grooming and exploitation.

The girl returned home at approximately 7pm on 19 April. She disclosed to police at 10:40pm that evening that she may have been the victim of a sexual offence.

The managed investigation identified that due to resourcing issues it was not until 8:42am on 18 April that Greater Manchester Police responded to the mother’s 999 call.

The investigation also identified that the mother’s call at 2:48am should have been given a high priority as it gave information of a significantly increased risk to her daughter.

Although it is clear from the point an officer attended the mother’s home on the morning on 18 April that there was a collective effort by Greater Manchester Police to find the girl, there were further delays in ensuring forensic evidence was secured when the girl returned home. This ultimately was not an issue in this case, but may be in others and the investigation determined it to be a lesson to be learned.

As the result of the investigation findings no misconduct action is to be taken against the officers involved. However a sergeant and inspector will receive advice to ensure the appropriate lessons are learned. In addition all officers and staff involved in handling the girl’s disappearance will have the findings of this investigation outlined to them by a senior officer.

IPCC Commissioner Ms Naseem Malik said: This was a very thorough investigation and while it is clear no officers’ performance warrants the imposition of misconduct action, it is clear lessons do need to be learned.

This girl’s mother dialled 999 because she had very real concerns for the welfare of her daughter. Although it is appreciated resources were seriously stretched and officers were deployed elsewhere dealing with serious incidents, a delay of more than 10 hours in responding to those concerns was unacceptable.

The investigation concluded the incidents involving the daughter would have occurred even if officers had responded quicker. But the delay must have affected the mother who was clearly extremely worried and wanted police help. Incidents such as these have the potential to impact on confidence in the police and I would urge Greater Manchester Police to fully take on board the findings and offer an apology for the delays in responding to the mother’s 999 call.”

Media contact:

Ian Christon, IPCC Regional Communications Officer (North region) Tel 0161 246 8582