United Kingdom

‘No evidence of racial bias’ review into Owami Davies police investigation finds

A review into the actions of the Metropolitan and Essex Police forces following the disappearance of Owami Davies has been completed. 

The review found that officers from both forces were in frequent contact with Owami’s family.  

It also found that Met officers showed compassion and care when they found Owami in Croydon on Wednesday, July 6. 

The review identified several learning points which will be used to improve the service’s response. 

Owami was then reported missing to Essex Police at 12.50pm on July 6. 

Officers visited Owami family’s home at 08.20am the following day.

This resulted in a delay in Owami’s details being added to the Police National Computer, which is used to share information with other forces.  

The review found the delay was due to officers in Essex responding to two high-risk missing person investigations and an attempted murder investigation. 

Owami was spoken to by Met officers in Croydon on July 6 after they were called by a member of the public.  

Those involved in the review agreed officers dealt with Owami compassionately. 

It found that officers faced a difficult balance in seeking support for her while respecting her wish for privacy and request to be left alone.  

The report stated that Owami declined to give her details to those officers. 

During the course of the investigation, the Metropolitan Police published several appeals for information about Owami’s whereabouts.  

One of these appeals featured an image of a woman who wasn’t Owami. 

The mistake was due to human error and was corrected as soon as it was noticed.  

Officers say it apologised for this error and 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 closely linked in with the investigation.

They were asked to examine the actions and responses of the Metropolitan Police. 

The IAGs also took part in the review process and were again encouraged to challenge police. 

They were satisfied there was no evidence of racial bias, according to the report. 

Officers will be presenting the findings of the review to Central Race IAG next month. 

Commander Paul Brogden said: “This was the biggest missing person investigation conducted by the Met this year and officers worked tirelessly over several weeks to ensure Owami was found safe and well.

“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.

“The Met received 43,040 missing person reports in the year to May 2022. 

“Each investigation has a unique set of circumstances and requires a proportionate policing response. 

“We will use the findings of this report to improve our service to Londoners.”

A spokesperson for Metropolitan Police said: ” The joint Essex and Metropolitan Police Service review found that officers from both forces were in frequent contact with Owami’s family and that Met officers showed compassion and care when they encountered Owami in Croydon on Wednesday, 6 July.

“The review also identified several learning points which will be used to improve our response to future missing person investigations.

“Owami was reported missing to Essex Police at 12:50hrs on Wednesday, 6 July.

“Officers visited her family’s home at 08:20hrs the following morning. 

“This resulted in a delay in Owami’s details being added to the Police National Computer (PNC), which is used to share information with other forces. 

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

“Owami was spoken to by Met officers in Croydon on Wednesday, 6 July after they were called by a member of the public. 

“Those involved in the review agreed officers had dealt with Owami compassionately and faced a difficult balance in seeking support for her, while respecting her wish for privacy and request to be left alone. 

“It also confirmed that she had not been circulated on the PNC at the time Met officers spoke with her, meaning they could not have known she had been reported missing. 

“However, as Owami had declined to give her details to those officers, they would in any case not have had sufficient information to properly carry out the PNC enquiry.

“During the course of the investigation, the Met published several appeals for information about Owami’s whereabouts. 

“One of these appeals featured an image of a woman who wasn’t Owami. This was also looked at as part of the review. 

“The mistake was due to human error and was corrected as soon as it was noticed. There was no evidence of racial bias. We apologised for the error.

“We were alive to concerns from the Black community that race was a factor in how officers responded to Owami’s disappearance. 

“Members of the Central Race Independent Advisory Group as well as IAGs in Croydon and West Thurrock were closely linked in with the investigation as it progressed with information shared transparently. 

“They were asked to scrutinise our actions and response and actively challenge us as needed.

“The IAGs also took part in the review process and were again encouraged to challenge us. 

“They were satisfied there was no evidence of racial bias. 

“We will be presenting the findings of the review to our Central Race IAG next month.”

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