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Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman: Met Police apologise to family of murdered sisters

Super Admin 15 Oct 26
Image source, Henry/Smallman family
Image caption, Sisters Bibaa Henry (left) and Nicole Smallman were found in bushes by friends

The Met Police has apologised to the family of two murdered sisters for failings in the way it responded when they were reported missing.

Danyal Hussein, 19, killed Bibaa Henry, 46, and Nicole Smallman, 27, at Fryent Country Park in Wembley, north-west London, on 6 June 2020.

A missing persons log was incorrectly closed and inquiries were not progressed, an investigation has found.

The sisters' mother said the apology was 10 months too late.

Their bodies were found by Ms Smallman's boyfriend the day after they had been reported missing to police.

An investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) found the Met's response following calls from worried friends and family of the missing sisters was "below the standard that it should have been".

Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said a better response would have saved their family and friends "immeasurable pain".

"While we know that very sadly Nicola and Bibaa had been murdered in the early hours of Saturday 6 June 2020, before they were reported missing, if we had responded better we may have saved their friends and family immeasurable pain," she said.

"I am very sorry that the level of service we provided fell short."

The pair were reported missing on Saturday, 7 June after attending a birthday celebration the previous evening but an inspector closed the logs after receiving information that was not accurately recorded.

The IOPC said a search by the sisters' families and friends of their last known location led to the discovery of their bodies in Fryent Country Park, Wembley on Sunday - 36 hours after the party.

Speaking about the apology, the sister's mother Mina Smallman said: "We're not the only parties who suffered mental anguish at the hands of Met's incompetent, reprehensible and blatant disregard of agreed procedures regarding missing persons."

Image source, Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry
Image caption, This is one of the last photographs taken of the sisters, only moments before they were attacked

She added that the on-duty call handler had made "inappropriate and manipulating assertions, which led to cancellation of the missing persons report.

"We're also of the view that his unprofessional comments about the picnic suggests racial profiling, misogyny or classism."

Dame Cressida said she contacted the family to ask if they would allow her or another senior officer to visit to apologise in person.

However, Ms Smallman said: "Sorry is something you say when you comprehend the wrong you do and take full responsibility for it. Demonstrating that by taking appropriate proportionate action which to our minds is not going to happen.

"The investigation was not handled appropriately. The apology should have been done face-to-face and not nearly 10 months later."

Image source, Met Police/PA Media
Image caption, Bibaa Henry (L) and Nicole Smallman were celebrating a birthday before they were killed

The IOPC investigation found an inspector closed the police logs after receiving information about the sisters' possible whereabouts from a family member.

However, that information was "inaccurately" recorded by a communications supervisor, so the inquiries were not progressed properly.

The inspector told the IOPC it had been one of "the most challenging shifts of his career" with 16 missing persons reports and an under-capacity unit due to the pandemic.

The force said it agreed its service the weekend the sisters went missing was "below the standard it should have been".

It said no misconduct was found by an officer and two members of police staff but there would be action taken over their performance, which was found to be inadequate.

There was no suggestion racial bias played any part in how the missing persons reports were dealt with, it said.

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