Met Commissioner criticised for officers’ sharing ‘sickening’ photos of murdered sisters
Dame Cressida Dick should carry the can for her officers sharing pictures of the bodies of two murdered sisters on WhatsApp, the victims’ mother has said.
The Venerable Mina Smallman criticised the Metropolitan Police Commissioner for her “shoddy” handling of the case and said the force needed to “get the rot out”.
On Tuesday, Pc Deniz Jaffer (pictured, left) and Pc Jamie Lewis (pictured, right) admitted taking a series of pictures of Nicole Smallman, 27, and Bibaa Henry, 49, after they were murdered in a Wembley park last June.
Both officers shared images on WhatsApp and Lewis even superimposed his own face on one of the photographs that was sent – unsolicited – to a female colleague.
Speaking outside the Old Bailey in London, Mrs Smallman described how learning about their behaviour was the “last straw”.
She said: “You go to London to start to prepare for the funeral of your two children and you are forced to have a meeting with the IOPC’s (Independent Office for Police Conduct) then-commander to tell you that police officers that should have been protecting the area had actually taken selfies and sent them out to a dentist and doctor and a WhatsApp group.”
She said that officers should understand that they are “not above the law” and are “not going to be protected”.
She said: “You need to drill down and get the rot out once and for all.”
Asked if the Met Commissioner should resign, she said: “Kicking people out does not fix the problem. Keep her in the position and get her to do the job.”
But she criticised Dame Cressida for her “shoddy way of behaving and her response since all of this has come out”.
Mrs Smallman told reporters: “She has not contacted us to say I am really sorry. She has not spoken into this story at all.
“And it’s shameful that the IOPC had to tell the Met they should apologise to us in their failings for the missing persons (investigation).
“Too little too late. Too little too late.
“When I was in a senior position, if my organisation or department failed, it was on me.
“I had to take the can for it. Well it’s now time for them to take the can for it. They are beyond hope.”
Mrs Smallman called for the police watchdog to have more powers to investigate, saying the IOPC had “no teeth”.
Mrs Smallman referred to the recent killing of MP Sir David Amess, whom she knew.
She said: “One of the things that I notice is that when people want things to change, they can.”
Because “one of his own was murdered”, Prime Minister Boris Johnson had acted to ensure the safety of MPs and the Queen had “signed off” on making Southend a city in Sir David’s honour.
She added: “I would like the same urgency towards protecting women on the streets.”
IOPC regional director for London, Sal Naseem, acknowledged the “unimaginable heartache, loss and grief” of the victims’ family.
He said: “The actions of Pc Jamie Lewis and former officer Deniz Jaffer were sickening.
“They should have been protecting a crime scene but instead they treated it with contempt and disrespect.
“In doing so they insulted Nicole and Bibaa, their families, their loved ones and their colleagues.
“There can be no place in policing for anyone behaving in this way.
“These officers have further undermined public confidence and damaged trust in the Metropolitan Police Service at a time (when) police standards have never been under such close scrutiny.”
Mr Naseem said the police watchdog’s role was to hold officers accountable for their actions and identify where policing could be improved.
He said: “Sadly, as today’s events highlight, police officers falling below the standards of behaviour expected of them are not one-off events.
“A culture where some officers do not see anything wrong with sharing deeply offensive messages and where others feel unable or unwilling to challenge has to change – and it has to change now.”
He said the IOPC had made two recommendations last year for the Met to “tackle inappropriate behaviours and cultures” at the station where Lewis and Jaffer were based.
“We understand changes have now been implemented across the North East Command.
“The Met are seeking to implement our recommendations throughout the service. This is welcome and those changes cannot come quickly enough.”
The commissioner issued a fresh apology on Tuesday.
She said in a statement: “Our thoughts today are with the family and friends of Bibaa and Nicole. I deeply regret that at a time when they were grieving the loss of their loved ones, who were taken in such awful circumstances, they faced additional distress caused by the actions of two police officers.
“What former Pc Jaffer and Pc Lewis chose to do that day was utterly unprofessional, disrespectful and deeply insensitive. I know that is the view of colleagues across the Met who utterly condemn this behaviour.
“They have pleaded guilty today to a serious criminal offence and sentencing will follow in due course. I apologised to Bibaa and Nicole’s family in June last year and, on behalf of the Met, I apologise again today.
“Now that the judicial process has got to this stage, we are able to take the officers through an accelerated misconduct process.”
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