Two police staff given misconduct notices over Richard Okorogheye search ‘failings’

Two police staff members have been served misconduct notices over alleged failings in the investigation into the disappearance of Richard Okorogheye.

Richard went missing after leaving his family home in Ladbroke Grove, west London, on March 22 this year.

The 19-year-old had sickle cell disease and had been shielding during the pandemic.

Richard’s body was found in a lake in Epping Forest two weeks later. A cause of death has not yet been determined.

Richard was last seen in Loughton, Essex, walking towards the forest on CCTV at 12.39am on 23 March.

His body was found two miles from where he was last seen and was missing his phone, bag and shoes – all of which have still not been found.

Following complaints made by Richard’s mother, Evidence Joel, the IOPC (The Independent Office for Police Conduct) is investigating how his disappearance was first handled.

Richard’s mother has previously said she did not think Richard’s disappearance was taken seriously because of his race.

In a statement to Sky News, an IOPC spokesperson said: “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 serving of misconduct notices does not mean that disciplinary proceedings will follow.”

The investigation is expected to last between six and nine months.

Richard’s mother has previously said she contacted police the day after her son vanished, but he was not recorded officially as a missing person until March 24.

She described the latest development as “encouraging” and in a statement issued via her lawyers, said: “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.

“I know that the investigation is at [the] 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.”

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