'Thorough' Investigation Promised In McKay Case

25 September 2015, 11:04 | Updated: 25 September 2015, 11:08

The family of a missing 88-year-old woman deserve a "thorough and timely investigation'', Scotland's Justice Secretary has said, after it emerged that a possible sighting of the pensioner was not followed up by police officers.

A body believed to be that of Janet McKay, who suffered from dementia, was discovered in Clydebank yesterday, nine days after she was seen leaving her home in the Knightswood area of Glasgow.

The last reported sighting of her had been on CCTV leaving a bus in Clydebank on the day she went missing.

But Chief Superintendent Andy Bates, of Police Scotland, has now confirmed that a member of the public informed police last Friday of a possible sighting of Ms McKay, but that the information was not passed to call handling centres or to the inquiry team.

Officers have apologised to Ms McKay's family and the issue has been referred to the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC).

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson said the death was a tragedy for her family and friends, as he offered them his condolences.

He saud: "What's now important though 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.

"It's important that we allow them to undertake that investigation, which will be directed by the Lord Advocate, who will ensure that there is a very thorough and timely investigation into this matter because that's what the family deserve at the very least in order to get answers to how they conducted this particular inquiry.''

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

Mr Matheson said police have been clear to point out that the latest case does not relate to information passed to a call centre.

"They are clear that this is information that wasn't actually passed to a call centre in the first place and then when it eventually was passed to the call centre it was then actioned immediately to the investigation team,'' he told the programme.

"I think it's important we allow the investigation by the Police Investigation 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.''