25 Oct 2021

Met Police to apologise to mother of murdered sisters

Channel 4 News understands that the Independent Office for Police Conduct has found no evidence of discrimination into the missing persons inquiry for the two murdered sisters Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman.

The Metropolitan Police is also expected to issue a formal apology to the mother of Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman for providing an ‘unacceptable service’.

Channel 4 News understands that the Metropolitan Police failed for 12 hours to try to find Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry following calls from worried friends and family.

Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry were murdered on Saturday 6 June last year by Danyal Hussein at Fryent Country Park in Wembley.

Mina Smallman, the mother of the victims, has told Channel 4 News, that despite the police watchdogs’ findings, she believes there were racist elements in the missing persons investigation.

“No one was taking it seriously. There was no search put in place by police. Our phone calls were being disregarded. There was no action at all… Bibaa wasn’t even on as a missing person on the Sunday after we’d made calls on the Saturday. And you know, it’s shameful. It’s shocking.

“Right from the very beginning, they knew they were looking for two girls, two women of colour. I’m trying to understand. Why they didn’t follow procedure. What could the explanation be?”

In an exclusive interview to be broadcast on Channel 4 News on Tuesday 26 October, the girls’ mother added: “The time for apologies have long gone”.

Metropolitan Police statement

Commissioner Cressida Dick said: “My thoughts and deepest sympathies are with the family and friends of Nicole and Bibaa for their tragic losses.

“The way we responded to information that Nicole and Bibaa were missing that weekend was below the standard we should have achieved and compounded the distress felt by their loved ones.

“While we know that very sadly Nicola and Bibaa had been murdered in the early hours of Saturday, 6 June 2020, before they were reported missing, if we had responded better we may have saved their friends and family immeasurable pain.

“I am very sorry that the level of service we provided fell short. We have contacted the family to ask if they will allow me or, if they prefer, another senior officer to visit them at a time that is right to apologise in person.”

IOPC Statement

Regional Director for London Sal Naseem said: “Once again my thoughts and sympathies are with the family and friends of Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry.

“Their deaths caused unimaginable heartache, loss and grief, feelings which were heightened by the inadequate service the family and friends received from the Metropolitan Police when reporting the sisters missing.

“Had the MPS focused on progressing the missing persons investigation it may have prevented the further distress caused to Nicole and Bibaa’s loved ones, who made the harrowing discovery after organising their own search party.

“As well as identifying three individuals whose performance fell below the standards expected of them, this investigation also identified failings in the service provided, for which we have now advised the MPS to apologise to the family.

“It is vital that the force addresses these shortcomings and effects long-lasting change and improvement to help restore public confidence in the MPS.”