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Police refer themselves to IPCC over drowned teenager

Ellis Downes died after experiencing difficulties while swmming in the River Thames

The Thames Valley Police force has referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission regarding the way it carried out the recovery operation to find a teenager who went missing in the River Thames.

Ellis Downes, 16, was last seen swimming in the River Thames at Culham on the night of Saturday 7th May. The area between Abingdon Lock and Culham Lock was closed for the search operation to take place.

Ellis' family were critical of the way the police handled the recovery operation. The teenager's body was found by a private team of divers on Monday night.

The River Thames near where Ellis was found

“I can confirm that Thames Valley Police have referred themselves to the IPCC with respect to the handling of the search for Ellis. We are aware of the family and community concerns around our actions following this tragic incident and the referral was made this morning (11/5). I expect the IPCC to respond with a decision on how the IPCC wishes the investigation to be managed.”

– Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Ross, Thames Valley Police


Police search for missing 84-year-old man in Bracknell

John Hayes has been missing all day. Credit: Thames Valley Police

Police are searching for an 84-year-old man with dementia and alzheimer's who has gone missing from his home in Bracknell in Berkshire.

John Hayes was last seen on Terrace Road South in Binfield at 9:30am this morning. He's known to travel around the town centre.

Thames Valley Police say they're very concerned for his welfare and anyone who sees him should call 101.

Earley hotel murder - police appeal for information

Police appeal for more information about murder in Berkshire

Two men arrested in Reading yesterday in connection with the death of a man at a hotel in the neighbouring town of Earley remain in police custody.

Detectives leading the murder investigation are once again appealing for information about the incident at the Elmhurst Hotel in Church Road. Officers were called just before 10am yesterday morning following reports of a man being assaulted. The victim - a man in his forties who has not yet been formally identified - died at the scene.

A post mortem examination is due to take place later today.

“I would appeal to anyone who has any information relating to this murder investigation to contact police immediately. I would specifically appeal to anyone who saw or heard anything unusual in St Peter’s Road or in the vicinity of the Elmhurst Hotel between about 9.30am and 10.30am yesterday.

“If you have any information, no matter how insignificant you think it might be, please contact your nearest police station or call us on 101.

“If you do not want to speak directly to the police you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

“We are conducting a thorough investigation into this incident and we arrested two men on suspicion of murder within about an hour of the incident being reported to us. I would like to reiterate that we believe this was a targeted attack.”

– Det Ch Insp Kevin Brown, TVP Major Crime Unit

Former headteacher jailed for child sex offences

Former headteacher Christopher Field jailed for child sex offences Credit: Thames Valley Police

A former headteacher found guilty of sex offences against two girls has been jailed for four years and four months.

Christopher Field, aged 47, and of Green Lane in Chievely used to be the headteacher at Woodcote Primary School in Oxfordshire. Thames Valley Police said he used his position of trust to groom the girls.

Field was found guilty of assault by touching a girl under 13, relating to two victims. He was also convicted by a majority verdict of one count of making indecent images of a child. The jury failed to reach a verdict on one count of sexual assault and one count of causing or inciting a girl under 13 to engage sexual activity.

The offences happened in Oxfordshire between September 2010 and November 2011, at a time when he was a headteacher in the county. The crimes were reported to police in 2014. Field was arrested in September that year and charged in May 2015.

The sentencing on Friday 18th March followed a 13 day trial at Oxford Crown Court.

“This was a difficult case involving a head teacher using his position of trust and authority to groom and abuse two young girls who did not properly understand what was happening at the time.

“They have shown great courage in coming forward. Both have been consistent and shown great determination in giving their evidence at court. I am sad for them that Field did not admit his guilt and thereby could have spared them the pain of reliving the ordeal in court.”

– Det Con Sarah Berry, Child Abuse Investigation Unit based in Oxford


Post-mortem examination reveals Reading death was suspicious

Thames Valley Police officers were called to an address in London Road, Reading, on Sunday 27th December at 4.20am by paramedics where a man had died.

The man has been formally identified as Bobir Esanov, 36, a Uzbekistan national who lived there at the time of his death.

The death was initially treated as unexplained but after a post-mortem examination a murder investigation was launched.

Senior Investigating Officer, Det Chief Insp Simon Steel, is today appealing for anyone with information to contact the investigation team.

DCI Steel said: “I would appeal to anyone who was in London Road between Liverpool Road and Manchester Road on Boxing Day evening into the early hours of the next day to contact us."

“The easiest way to contact us is to call 101, but you can also visit your nearest police station; the police station in Reading is situated in Castle Street.

Detectives say if callers would prefer not to speak directly to the police they can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or online at No personal details are taken, information is not traced or recorded and you will not go to court.

Police force criticised for way it handled 'interactions' with 'vulnerable' Jayden before her murder

Teenager Jayden Parkinson was murdered by her ex-boyfriend

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has released its report into the way that Thames Valley Police handled the disappearance of Oxfordshire teenager Jayden Parkinson, and the force's earlier interactions with her in the year 2013.

Seventeen-year-old Jayden was murdered by her former boyfriend Ben Blakeley, who is currently serving a life sentence for killing her.

The IPCC report identified a number of errors in Thames Valley Police's handling of its dealing with Jayden. It found that Thames Valley Police had '... failed to record pertinent information and to allocate sufficient resources to progress earlier enquiries regarding Jayden, which had a detrimental impact on the later missing person investigation.'.

“Jayden Parkinson had already been murdered by Ben Blakeley when she was reported missing and therefore the actions the police should have taken could not have prevented her tragic death.

“However, Jayden was clearly vulnerable when she came to police attention a number of times prior to her death. If information about these interactions had been correctly recorded on police systems, Jayden would have been treated as a high priority when she later went missing. Unfortunately it took nearly a week for the force to identify that Jayden was a high risk missing person.”

– IPCC Associate Commissioner Guido Liguori

Extra training: Police react to criticism of fatal car chase

Thames Valley Police has reacted to criticism of its role in a fatal car chase in Reading and says it has improved the way it responds to incidents and has given staff further training.

The comments follow an Independent Police Complaints Commission report into the conduct of the force in February 2013 and a pursuit which led to the death of 19-year-old Matthew Seddon.

The crash on the A33 Credit: ITV Meridian

Mr Seddon, of Wensley Road, Reading, died after the red Ford Fiesta he was driving collided with the central reservation of the A33. The force referred the incident to the IPCC the following day.

Following the IPCC’s investigation, misconduct proceedings were brought against five police officers and one member of staff.

Three police officers were found to have no case to answer, a fourth police officer was given management advice for an admitted breach of duties and responsibilities, and a fifth police officer was found to have breached the standards of duties and responsibilities but received no sanction.

A TVP member of staff was given management advice for failing to comply with Thames Valley Police guidelines for the management of pursuits.

The IPCC sent its evidence to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) which concluded there was no realistic prospect of conviction regarding driving offences.

Matthew Seddon, who died on the A33 Credit: ITV Meridian

“This has been a long and distressing process for both Matthew Seddon’s family and everyone involved in the case since Mr Seddon’s death.

Our thoughts remain with Matthew Seddon’s family and friends, and everyone impacted by this tragedy at this difficult time.

“As a result of this tragic case Thames Valley Police has reviewed a number of our policies and our training, and has improved the way we respond to incidents. For example, all our control room sergeants and supervisors who are involved in managing police pursuit activity from the control room perspective have been given additional training on how to make and record their decisions and actions.”

– Alan Baldwin, Assistant Chief Constable, Thames Valley Police
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