A FORMER Archdeacon of Southend has rejected an apology from the Metropolitan Police Service its failures when her two murdered daughters were reported missing. “The time for apologies has long gone,” she said.
The Ven. Mina Smallman was speaking after the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Dame Cressida Dick, said that the Service would apologise for failings that resulted in the bodies of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman being found by Ms Smallman’s boyfriend. Friends and family carried out their own search for the women who had been at a birthday picnic in Fryent Country Park, north-west London, in June 2020.
Dame Cressida was responding to a report by the police watchdog on Monday that found the service provided when the sisters went missing to be “below the standard that it should have been”.
Dame Cressida said: “If we had responded better we may have saved their friends and family immeasurable pain. I am very sorry. . . We have contacted the family to ask if they will allow me — or, if they prefer, another senior officer — to visit them at a time that is right to apologise in person.”
Mrs Smallman told Channel 4 News on Tuesday that she had previously met Dame Cressida. “She was very nice, very charming. But her job was essentially to protect the brand.”
Separately, Mrs Smallman issued a statement in which she said: “Sorry is something you say when you comprehend the wrong you have done and take full responsibility for it, demonstrating that by taking appropriate proportionate action — which the Met Police have failed to do.”
The Metropolitan Police agreed with the findings of the report by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), which also concluded: “No misconduct was found for an officer and two members of police staff but there will be action taken over their performance, which was found to be inadequate.” It did not find that racial bias influenced how the Met handled the missing persons reports.
Mrs Smallman said, however, that she still believed there was a racist element to the police failures.
The report listed a series of errors. A call handler referred to one of the missing women as a “suspect”, and a duty inspector closed the police logs after a staff member inaccurately recorded information from a family member regarding Ms Henry’s believed whereabouts.
Danyal Hussein, aged 19, was convicted of the sisters’ murder in July (News, 9 July), and was due to be sentenced yesterday. Two police officers accused of misconduct in public office, who have apologised for taking photos of the women’s bodies, are due to return to the Old Bailey on 2 November. An IOPC report on their behaviour is yet to be published.
The Archbishops’ Taskforce’s report on addressing racism in the Church, published earlier this year, was dedicated to the memory of Ms Smallman and Ms Henry at the request of members of the taskforce.