Probe into inappropriate pictures at MPS crime scene see files passed to CPS

An investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) into allegations that non-official, inappropriate photographs were taken at the scene of a double murder has led to a file of evidence being submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).

Nov 26, 2020
By Tony Thompson
Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry

The investigation was launched on June 17 after the Directorate of Professional Standards of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) was informed that photographs had been taken of sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman whose bodies had been found at Fryent Country Park, Wembley.

Both women had been stabbed multiple times. Inappropriate photographs were taken and the images were shared with police officers and members of the public but individually via WhatsApp.

Two MPS officers were arrested on June 22 by the IOPC on suspicion of misconduct in public office and subsequently released under investigation. Both officers, who are based on the North East Command, remain suspended from duty.

In addition, the IOPC launched a separate investigation to examine the conduct of a further six officers who allegedly were either aware of, received or viewed the inappropriate photographs and failed to challenge or report them.

Five other officers have been told their conduct is under investigation over allegations stemming from the original probe, including that an officer took a picture at the scene of a sudden death before sharing it.

Other investigations are looking into allegations that officers shared answers before a police exam and the use of discriminatory language.

IOPC Regional Director for London Sal Naseem said: “As a result of our inquiries so far we have made two fast-time recommendations to the MPS. These seek to ensure that police officers, their supervisors and senior management teams all take responsibility for a culture that is in line with the Police Code of Ethics and where inappropriate behaviour can be openly challenged.

“Last month we also referred one strand of our investigation to the CPS as the evidence we have gathered indicates a criminal offence may have been committed. A report has also been sent to the MPS to consider its next steps in terms of potential disciplinary proceedings for the two officers.

“Uppermost in our mind remain the family of Nicole and Bibaa, and we continue to provide them with regular updates. We also ensure the officers involved are aware of developments in our investigation.”

A statement issued by the MPS said: “As soon as this matter came to light, the MPS took action on the North East Command to remind officers of their responsibilities in using WhatsApp and other social media channels. Local senior management spoke to officers on the command to outline what is expected of them in terms of their behaviour as well as encouraging anyone who has a concern about a colleague’s behaviour to come forward.

The IOPC investigation continues but it has made two fast-time learning recommendations to the MPS.

The first is to ensure all officers within a single police station in the North East Command conform to the expectations of their behaviour under the Code of Ethics, while on and off duty, and are aware that failure to do so could severely damage the public’s confidence in policing.

The second is for the MPS to review whether supervisors and senior management at that police station are taking personal responsibility to identify and eliminate patterns of inappropriate behaviour, while simultaneously promoting a safe and open culture which makes clear to officers and staff that they are duty bound to challenge and report behaviour that does not align with the Code of Ethics.

The MPS statement continued: “These recommendations, which were received on Monday, November 16, have been largely addressed already, not just within the single police station but across the entire North East Command. However, senior officers continue work to ensure these recommendations are fully implemented.”

The IOPC is also conducting a separate probe into how the MPS handled calls from the worried family and friends of missing Ms Smallman and Ms Henry before their bodies were discovered on June 7.

One officer has been told their conduct is under investigation over potentially failing to progress the reports properly.

Danyal Hussein, 18, of Guy Barnett Grove, Blackheath, southeast London, is facing trial accused of the sisters’ murders.

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