Richard Okorogheye: Watchdog to examine police handling of his disappearance after mother’s complaints

The police watchdog is to investigate the Met’s handling of Richard Okorogheye’s disappearance following complaints from his mother.

The 19-year-old man, who had sickle cell disease and was said to be struggling with shielding during the pandemic, went missing after leaving his family home in Ladbroke Grove, west London, on the evening of 22 March.

The following day his mother, Evidence Joel, contacted police – but Mr Okorogheye was not officially recorded as missing until 8am on 24 March.

His body was found in a lake in Epping Forest on 5 April, and his mother later said she had been “disappointed” with the initial police response to his disappearance.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has now said it will investigate her complaints about the way she was first treated by police, and how her reports about her son’s disappearance were handled.

The IOPC will also look at whether his or his mother’s ethnicity played a part in how the first reports of him vanishing were handled.

And it will investigate whether the Met “responded appropriately” to the concerns about him going missing.

It will also examine if the force appropriately risk-assessed those reports, and if the amount of resources the Met dedicated to its enquiries were suitable based on the information known by the police.

IOPC regional director Sal Naseem said: “Our thoughts are with Richard’s family and friends and all those affected by this tragic loss. We have spoken to his family and explained our role.

“Our investigation will establish whether the police responded appropriately to the concerns raised that Richard was missing.

“We will examine whether the force appropriately risk assessed those reports, and if the amount of resources the Metropolitan Police dedicated to its enquiries were suitable based on the information known by the police and the risks posed.

“As there is a mandatory requirement for police forces to refer to us incidents which result in a death or serious injury, we will examine the actions and decisions of the police when dealing with the missing person report made in respect of a vulnerable young man.”

After leaving his home, Mr Okorogheye took a taxi from the W2 area of London to a street in Loughton, Essex and was last seen there walking alone towards Epping Forest at 12.39am on 23 March.

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