TWO UK police staff members have been served misconduct notices over alleged failings in the investigation into the disappearance of Nigerian student, Richard Okorogheye.
Richard, 19, who had sickle cell disease, went missing after leaving his family home in Ladbroke Grove, west London, on March 22.
In a statement to Sky News, spokesperson for the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) confrmed the development, but said that the serving of misconduct notices did not mean that disciplinary proceedings would follow.
“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 IOPC said.
The investigation is expected to last between six and nine months.
Richard’s mother Evidence Joel had alerted the police of his disappearance on March 24 but claimed that they were slow to act because of her race.
“At the beginning they ignored me. I was nobody. I was just a black woman being frantic and overreacting about an adult who is 19, which we all know, these are vulnerable adults. I wish they had reacted earlier,” she said.
Richard’s body was later found in a lake in Epping Forest two weeks later. The cause of death has not yet been determined.
The IOPC is also now investigating how Richard’s disappearance was first handled when it was reported by his mother.
Reacting to the preliminary findings, Joel said in a statement through her lawyers that she felt vindicated and encouraged.
“I know that the investigation is at 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.
“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,” she said.