Two Metropolitan police officers have been placed under investigation for alleged errors made when Richard Okorogheye went missing, a fortnight before he was found dead in Epping Forest.
The 19-year-old, who had sickle cell anaemia, went missing from his west London home in March with his concerned family raising the alarm with police. One officer is alleged not to have passed on potentially important medical information about Okorogheye’s vulnerabilities.
He was reported missing from his Ladbroke Grove home by his mother, Evidence Joel, on 23 March, and she also called police the next day. Joel first told police about her son’s condition and then got Okorogheye’s GP to call police to also pass on that information.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct, who are investigating the case, will look into whether that was passed on to the police team searching for the teenager. It will also examine whether the teenager’s condition was taken into account when assessing the level of danger he faced after going missing.
Okorogheye had left home without the medication he needed, and his body was discovered in Epping Forest on 5 April.
Reacting to the news that two officers had been issued with misconduct notices, Joel said: “This development in the IOPC investigation confirms what I have known all along – both Richard’s GP and I were dismissed by numerous officers and staff at the Met.
“In addition to dismissing my concerns about the disappearance of my son, a young black man, there was clearly either a lack of understanding about sickle cell disease or a reckless disregard for Richard’s condition – a condition which disproportionately affects individuals from African and Caribbean backgrounds.
“Although I welcome this update from the IOPC, I remain deeply disappointed and concerned with the Metropolitan police’s treatment of me and the underlying reasons for this.”
Two Met civilian staff were already under investigation.
An IOPC spokesperson said: “We can confirm that we have served misconduct notices on two Metropolitan Police Service officers in connection with our investigation of complaints by Richard Okorogheye’s mother about the way police handled reports that her son was missing.
“The serving of misconduct notices does not necessarily mean that disciplinary proceedings will follow.”
As part of its investigation, the IOPC will consider whether the search for Okorogheye was hampered by racial bias.