Janet McKay's Family Praise Police After Search For Missing Woman

25 September 2015, 11:03 | Updated: 25 September 2015, 14:19

The family of pensioner Janet McKay have acknowledged the support of the officers involved in the search for the 88-year-old as they spoke of their devastation following her death.

The body of Ms McKay, who suffered from dementia, was discovered in Clydebank yesterday, more than a week after she was seen leaving her home in the Knightswood area of Glasgow.

Police Scotland subsequently apologised to her relatives after it emerged information about a possible sighting of the woman last Friday was not passed on to call-handling centres or the inquiry team.

The issue has been referred to the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC).

Ms McKay's relatives said they would not comment on the ongoing investigation.

In a statement issued via Police Scotland, her family said: "We, as a family, are devastated to hear the news of our dear mother who will be sadly missed by everyone who knew her.

"We would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the support from the many officers involved in the search to locate our mother. We have been constantly updated on the progress of the investigation throughout.

"We are aware of the internal investigation ongoing which remains a matter for the relevant authorities and not something we would wish to comment on.

"We would respectfully ask the media to give us privacy to grieve.''

Scotland's Justice Secretary Michael Matheson has said Ms McKay's family deserve a "thorough and timely investigation'' into what happened. Opposition politicians have called for answers.

The incident follows a review of Police Scotland's procedures launched after the deaths of John Yuill and Lamara Bell earlier this year, who lay undiscovered for days despite a sighting of their crashed car off the M9 being reported to a police control-room.

Meanwhile, Ms McKay's son, George McKay, said the police had been very supportive towards the family.

He said: "We've been very happy with the way the police have dealt with it - they've been very supportive to us.

"Any wider issues are a matter for Police Scotland but we have no criticisms to make of them.''

The last reported sighting of Ms McKay had been on CCTV as she got off a bus in Clydebank on the day she went missing, Wednesday September 16.

But Chief Superintendent Andy Bates confirmed that some information was not passed to the team looking for her.

He said: "On Friday evening, as part of our inquiries, a member of the public provided us with information of a possible sighting of the missing person.

"This information was not passed to the call- handling centres, nor was it passed to the inquiry team.

''On Tuesday, further information about this potential sighting was received through the call-handling centre, who immediately passed it to the inquiry team.``

He added: "I would like to apologise to the family for any distress caused at this difficult time and take this opportunity to express my condolences to the family and friends and thank those members of the public who supported the search for Janet.''

Justice Secretary Mr Matheson told BBC Radio Scotland: "What's now important is that we establish all of the facts relating to this particular matter.

"The Lord Advocate has immediately referred the matter to the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC), as have Police Scotland, who will now be responsible for investigating the way in which Police Scotland have handled this particular missing persons inquiry.''

He added: "I think it's important we allow the investigation by the Police Investigations and Review Commission to be taken forward and we shouldn't prejudice that by trying to pre-empt any of the matters around this particular incident.''

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie says it's been made clear that the police call centres were not involved in this latest case, whereas they were "central to the problem on the M9''.

He told Good Morning Scotland: ''It's really important that we understand how the information flows throughout Police Scotland so that we are actually reassured that this is a rare error, rather than a system problem.''

Speaking at an event in Edinburgh, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said: "It does come very quickly after the M9 tragedy and there are some serious questions here about how information has been handled within the police and within the wider justice system.''

Chief Constable Sir Stephen House last month announced that he would stand down earlier than expected following sustained public and political criticism over call centre failings, and controversies over stop-and-search and armed police patrols.