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Review into the Owami Davies missing person investigation is complete

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Review into the Owami Davies missing person investigation is complete

A review into the actions of the Met and Essex Police following the disappearance of Owami Davies has concluded.

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.

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."

Owami was reported missing to Essex Police at 12:50hrs on Wednesday, 6 July. Officers spoke to her family 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.

Commander Brogden added: "The focus of every missing person investigation is to find the person safe and well. I understand there will be cases that result in significant interest from the public and the media, however we must balance the need for information with the person's right to privacy. We remain in contact with Owami and her family and we wish them well for the future."

Further information:

  • The review report is attached below.
  • The review was carried out by senior officers from both forces, along with members of our independent advisory groups (IAGs). IAGs are made up of members of the community tasked with reviewing and challenging policing practices in a constructive way.
  • £123,000 was spent on additional costs for the operation, such as officer overtime and IT equipment. The figure does not include the cost of officers who were deployed on the operation as part of their rostered duties.
  • In the 12 months to May 2022, the Met received 43,040 missing person reports relating to 21,072 individuals. This is the equivalent of 118 new reports every day.
  • Of these, 40,712 people [95 per cent] were found or returned home within seven days of being reported missing. 2,086 [4 per cent] people were found or returned home after seven days and 242 [less than 1%] people are still missing.

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