Police admit delay adding missing student nurse to internal system due to ‘human error’

The Met Police has admitted there was a delay in adding Owami Davies to the internal system when she went missing from her Essex home in July.

The student nurse was last seen at her home in Grays on July 4 and then reported missing to Essex Police at 12.50pm on July 6.

Officers did not visit her family’s home until 8.20am the next morning (July 7).

This meant there was a delay adding Owami’s details to the Police National Computer (PNC), which is used to share information between different police forces.

She was found seven weeks later in Hampshire.

A review into police’s handling of the investigation has found this delay was due to Essex officers responding to two high-risk missing person investigations and an attempted murder investigation in the same policing district.

This investigation has also been criticised for other reasons.

During the course of the investigation into Owami’s disappearance, the Met published several appeals for information about her whereabouts.

One of these appeals featured an image of a woman who wasn’t Owami. This was also looked at as part of a review into the Owami Davies missing person investigation.

A total of £123,000 was also spent on additional costs for the operation.

In a statement, a Met Police spokesperson said: “This was also looked at as part of the review. The mistake was due to human error and was corrected as soon as it was noticed.

“There was no evidence of racial bias. We apologised for the error.

“We were alive to concerns from the Black community that race was a factor in how officers responded to Owami’s disappearance. Members of the Central Race Independent Advisory Group as well as IAGs in Croydon and West Thurrock were closely linked in with the investigation as it progressed with information shared transparently.

“They were asked to scrutinise our actions and response and actively challenge us as needed.

“The IAGs also took part in the review process and were again encouraged to challenge us. They were satisfied there was no evidence of racial bias. We will be presenting the findings of the review to our Central Race IAG next month.”

Commander Paul Brogden said: “This was the biggest missing person investigation conducted by the Met this year and officers worked tirelessly over several weeks to ensure Owami was found safe and well.

“As with any large policing operation, we have worked with our advisory groups to review our actions. I’m pleased that their feedback was largely positive, both about the officers involved and our handling of the investigation.

“The review did identify some important learning points, including how a missing person enquiry is transferred from one force to another to ensure work isn’t duplicated and any urgent enquiries are carried out as swiftly as possible.

“The Met received 43,040 missing person reports in the year to May 2022. Each investigation has a unique set of circumstances and requires a proportionate policing response. We will use the findings of this report to improve our service to Londoners.”

After Owami was found, Detective Chief Inspector Nigel Penney from the Met Police’s Specialist Crime Command said: “This is clearly the outcome we were hopeful for – the finding of the missing lady, Owami Davies.

“I’d like to say she has been found safe and well outside the London area in the county of Hampshire and she’s currently with specialist officers from my team.”

He added: “She looks in good health, she’s in a place of safety, and not currently in the vulnerable state that we were led to believe she was in at the start of her disappearance.”

Despite the arrests of five people and numerous appeals for information, officers were struggling to locate Ms Davies as they trawled through 117 reported sightings of the 24-year-old.

The 118th report, made in response to a media appeal by a member of the public, at 10.30am on Tuesday August 23 was the one which led to her being found.