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Met takes immediate action following allegations referred to IOPC

News   •   Nov 26, 2020 12:01 GMT

The Metropolitan Police Service has taken immediate action following the launch of an investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct into inappropriate images taken at a murder scene.

On Wednesday, 17 June the MPS’s Directorate of Professional Standards was informed of allegations that non-official and inappropriate photographs had been taken by police at the crime scene in place in Fryent Country Park, Wembley in relation to the murders of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman. These images were shared with police officers and members of the public but individually via WhatsApp.

The MPS made a referral to the IOPC which launched an independent investigation.

Two MPS officers were arrested on Monday, 22 June by the IOPC on suspicion of misconduct in public office and subsequently released under investigation. A file has since been referred by the IOPC to the Crown Prosecution Service.

Both officers, who are based on the North East Command, remain suspended from duty.

During the course of the investigation, further possible misconduct matters were identified and the IOPC have advised another six officers they are under investigation for misconduct in relation to the inappropriate and non-official photographs. These officers did not take any photographs themselves.

As soon as this matter came to light, the MPS took action on the North East Command to remind officers of their responsibilities in using WhatsApp and other social media channels. Local senior management spoke to officers on the command to outline what is expected of them in terms of their behaviour as well as encouraging anyone who has a concern about a colleague’s behaviour to come forward.

The IOPC investigation continues but it has made two fast-time learning recommendations to the MPS.

The first is to ensure all officers within a single police station in the North East Command conform to the expectations of their behaviour under the Code of Ethics, whilst on and off duty, and are aware that failure to do so could severely damage the public’s confidence in policing.

The second is for the MPS to review whether supervisors and senior management at that police station are taking personal responsibility to identify and eliminate patterns of inappropriate behaviour, whilst simultaneously promoting a safe and open culture which makes clear to officers and staff that they are duty bound to challenge and report behaviour that does not align with the Code of Ethics.

These recommendations, which were received on Monday, 16 November, have been largely addressed already, not just within the single police station but across the entire North East Command. However, senior officers continue work to ensure these recommendations are fully implemented. This is being overseen by the DPS’s prevention and learning team.

In addition, other allegations unrelated to the Wembley incident have led to five officers being informed their conduct is being investigated for possible breaches of standards of professional behaviour relating to honesty and integrity and equality and diversity.

In total 13 officers, based at the North East Command, are under investigation for all the matters above. Of these 13, two are suspended and five are on restricted duties.

Detectives investigating the murders established that Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman were killed in the early hours of Saturday, 6 June. Later that day, they were reported as missing to police when they did not return home. Their bodies were discovered on Sunday, 7 June.

As a result of their murder, a mandatory referral was made to the IOPC by the DPS to consider the actions of police between the time a number of reports were made to police by family and friends that Bibaa and Nicole were missing and the time they were found.

The IOPC began a separate independent investigation into this matter. One officer, based at the North West Command, has been advised they are under investigation. This officer is not suspended or on restricted duties.

The MPS continues to co-operate fully with the IOPC on all matters.

The families of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman are being kept updated by the IOPC.