Met Police officers given misconduct notices over Richard Okorogheye disappearance 6 months ago

Met Police officers given misconduct notices over Richard Okorogheye disappearance

The employees "may have failed to pass on new and relevant information to the team responsible for missing person assessments".

Richard Okorogheye went missing from his family home in Ladbroke Grove, west London, on the evening of March 22. The 19-year-old suffered from sickle cell disease and was shielding due to the pandemic.

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On April 5, his body was found in a lake in Epping Forest, but the exact cause of death has not yet been identified. 

The police watchdog, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), began investigating the way the student's disappearance was initially handled after complaints were made by Richard's mother, Evidence Joel.

Ms Joel first met with the IOPC on April 16, to discuss how she was initially treated by the police and how her reports of her son's disappearance were handled.

At the time of his disappearance, Ms Joel, told Sky News she believed she wasn't taken "seriously" because of her race.

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An IOPC spokesperson told Sky on Friday:

 "We can confirm that we have served misconduct notices on two members of Metropolitan Police Service staff as there is an indication that they may have failed to pass on new and relevant information relating to Richard Okorogheye to the team responsible for conducting missing person assessments.

"The serving of misconduct notices does not mean that disciplinary proceedings will follow."

Ms Joel initially contacted police the day after her son disappeared, but Richard was not officially recorded as missing until 8am on March 24.

She said she was told by police officials that her son was not considered “high risk” until he had been missing for six days.

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In a statement, issued by her lawyers in April, Ms Joel said:

"It is encouraging to hear that they are doing something because I kept calling, and at one point, a police officer told me to stop.

"Whenever I have talked about how I was treated and how slow the police response was, some people could have thought I was exaggerating.

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"I know that the investigation is at [the] early stages and I don't have details of the misconduct proceedings, but this news still provides some vindication of what I said all along about how slow the police were to act."

The investigation is likely to take six and nine months.

IOPC Regional Director Sal Naseem told ITV in April: “Our investigation will establish whether the police responded appropriately to the concerns raised that Richard was missing.

“We will examine whether the force appropriately risk assessed those reports, and if the amount of resources the Metropolitan Police dedicated to its enquiries were suitable based on the information known by the police and the risks posed.

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“We will also consider whether Richard’s or his mother’s ethnicity played a part in the way the initial reports of his disappearance were handled”.

Ms Joel hopes to start a foundation in her son's memory, with the aim of raising support for mental health awareness in young people.