Police Apologise To Family Over Failings In Hunt For OAP Later Found Dead

23 June 2017, 15:12

Janet McKay

An investigation has identified failings in how police handled the search for a missing pensioner who was found dead.

The family of 88-year-old Janet McKay have welcomed a series of recommendations made by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) after a probe into how the case was handled.

Police Scotland has apologised and said the findings are fully accepted.

The body of Mrs McKay, who suffered from dementia, was discovered in Clydebank, West Dunbartonshire, in September 2015, eight days after she was seen leaving her home in the Knightswood area of Glasgow.

Pirc was tasked with investigating how Police Scotland managed the missing person inquiry by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS).

Its report found that while police had reacted swiftly to the report of Mrs McKay as a missing person, there were ''procedural and investigative failings'' in the subsequent inquiry.

Officers did not take a statement from Mrs McKay's carer who would have been able to describe what she had been wearing, and they ''failed to act promptly'' in response to a reported sighting of her on the day she went missing.

Significant information about Mrs McKay being seen by another witness on the day she went missing was not passed on to a relevant officer until days later, and information that she had been seen boarding a bus to Clydebank was not followed up quickly enough.

Pirc found some police supervisors had failed to check lines of inquiry had been properly completed.

The report also concluded many officers involved in the inquiry were not fully aware of guidance and standard procedures on missing persons.

Commissioner Kate Frame said: ''This investigation highlighted a number of investigative and procedural shortcomings by Police Scotland in conducting a missing person inquiry for a vulnerable, elderly woman who suffered from dementia.

''I have made a number of recommendations which I have already shared with the chief constable in light of this case, to enable him to put measures in place and take corrective action to prevent such failings in the future.''

In a statement, Mrs McKay's family said: ''We are aware of the findings of the Pirc report and are pleased to note that a number of recommendations have been made.

''We hope that going forward Police Scotland will look carefully at these recommendations and that valuable lessons have been learned.

''This has been a difficult time for our family. Janet was a loving mother and grandmother and we are thankful for the support we have received, but would ask for our privacy to be respected to allow us to come to terms with her loss in peace.''

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Williams said: ''I apologise on behalf of Police Scotland and once again offer my heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of Mrs Janet McKay.

''I fully accept the findings from the review by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) and Police Scotland will continue to work with them to ensure all the lessons identified are addressed and built into our missing person investigations.''

The commissioner has recommended that in high risk, vulnerable missing person investigations, police should consider setting up an electronic or manual major incident room overseen by an appointed senior investigating officer.

Police Scotland must also ensure all officers and staff are fully aware of the correct procedures, take measures to ensure the failings identified are not repeated and ensure that items such as CCTV seized as evidence are properly recorded, prioritised and reviewed.