Met police to apologise to family of murdered sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry over response

The police have will apologise to the family of two murdered sisters, but for them it's too little too late, Rebecca Barry reports

The Metropolitan Police will apologise to the family of two sisters murdered in a London park for the way it handled the initial missing persons investigation.

The force is set to admit its response "fell short," following a report by the police watchdog.

Nicole Smallman, 27, and Bibaa Henry, 46, were stabbed to death in Fryent Country Park in Wembley, north London, last June, after they celebrating Bibaa's birthday at the spot.

Danyal Hussein, 19, was convicted of their murder in July after a jury found him guilty of the savage attack.

The Met said it agreed with the findings of an Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) report that found the response the weekend the sisters went missing fell below the standard expected of a missing persons inquiry.

No officers will face disciplinary hearings after the force said it did not find misconduct during its review of the case's handling by an officer and two members of police staff. 

However there will be action taken over the trio's performance, which was found to be inadequate, the Met said.

There was no suggestion racial bias played any part in how the missing persons reports were dealt with, the force added.

Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman Credit: Met Police/PA

The IOPC investigation found that the inspector closed the police logs after receiving information about the sisters’ possible whereabouts from a family member, but that information was “inaccurately” recorded by a communications supervisor.

The inspector told the investigation that this had been one of “the most challenging shifts of his career” with 16 missing persons reports open and the North West Command Unit under capacity by almost 50% due to the pandemic.

The Met said following the investigation several members of staff must subsequently undertake “unsatisfactory performance procedures.”

Met 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, June 6 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.”

The IOPC investigation had also considered whether the force’s response had been affected by the sisters’ ethnicity, the Met added.

In August, family and friends staged at a vigil at the scene of the incident on what would have been Ms Smallman’s 29th birthday Credit: Elmira Tanatarova/PA

“After a comprehensive examination of police records, no evidence was found of stereotyping or biased assumptions based on the sisters’ race or where they lived,” the report said.

“The IOPC also recommended we review the processes and separate computer systems used by different call handlers, and consider whether further training should be provided to ensure all fully understand how systems operate that they might not use as frequently.

“We have already addressed this recommendation by producing an enhanced training information pack for all call operators.”

In August, family and friends of the sisters held a vigil at the scene of the sisters' deaths on what would have been Ms Smallman’s 29th birthday.

Crowds lit candles and laid flowers to honour all women who have lost their lives to male violence.