Probe into two officers opened in disappearance of Richard Okorogheye

Two London police officers face misconduct probe over initial missing persons investigation when Richard Okorogheye – who was found dead after two weeks – disappeared

  • A misconduct probe has been opened over the case of Richard Okorogheye, 19
  • The IOPC confirmed it had served misconduct notices on two Met Police officers
  • Mr Okorogheye was reported missing from his home in west London on March 22
  • Body was discovered two weeks later in a lake in Epping Forest, 20 miles away

Two Metropolitan Police officers are being investigated by the police watchdog for possible misconduct in the case of Richard Okorogheye.

Mr Okorogheye, 19, went missing from his home in Ladbroke Grove, west London, on March 22, and was found two weeks later in a lake in Epping Forest, 20 miles away.

Now the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) confirmed it had served misconduct notices on two London officers. 

In July, misconduct notices were previously served on two MPS staff members as part of the same investigation.


Richard Okorogheye (left), 19, went missing from his home in Ladbroke Grove, west London, on March 22. His mother Evidence Joel contacted the police the next day

The misconduct probe follows concerns from the teenager’s mother Evidence Joel about the police response after her son was reported missing.

Ms Joel, a nurse, previously said that she was ‘disappointed with the initial response by police’ when she reported her son was missing. 

She claimed: ‘I told a police officer that my son was missing, please help me find him, and she said ”if you can’t find your son, how do you expect police officers to find your son for you?”’ 

Mr Okorogheye, who had sickle cell disease, was last seen leaving his home on March 22 and his mother contacted police the next day, but he was not officially recorded as missing until 8am on March 24. 

Police previously said further inquiries established that after leaving his home, he took a taxi from the W2 area of London to a residential street in Loughton, Essex.

He was last seen on CCTV in Loughton, walking alone on Smarts Lane towards Epping Forest at 12.39am on March 23.

Now the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) confirmed it had served misconduct notices on two London officers. Pictured: Richard Okorogheye

Mr Okorogheye, who had sickle cell disease, was last seen leaving his home on March 22 but he was not officially recorded as missing until 8am on March 24

Two weeks after he was originally reported as missing, Mr Okorogheye’s body was found in Epping Forest.

Lawyers for the family claim that a police officer failed to consider his medical condition as part of their risk assessment.

Another is facing allegations they did not pass on the fact he suffered from sickle cell anaemia to the missing persons team after the force was contacted by his GP.

In a statement issued through law firm Birnberg Peirce, Ms Joel said: ‘This development in the IOPC investigation confirms what I have known all along – both Richard’s GP and I were dismissed by numerous officers and staff at the Metropolitan Police.’

After her son’s body was found, Ms Joel wept as she told Sky News how she is ‘completely hollow and devastated and empty’ having been told the news.

‘At this moment of time I just want answers as how my son lost his life. I want answers. I desperately need closure,’ she added.

An IOPC spokesperson said: ‘We can confirm that we have served misconduct notices on two Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) officers in connection with our investigation of complaints by Richard Okorogheye’s mother about the way police handled reports that her son was missing.

‘The serving of misconduct notices does not necessarily mean that disciplinary proceedings will follow.’

He was last seen on CCTV (pictured) in Loughton, walking alone on Smarts Lane towards Epping Forest at 12.39am on March 23

The misconduct probe follows concerns from the teenager’s mother Evidence Joel about the police response after Mr Okorogheye (pictured) was reported missing

Earlier this year, the IOPC said it would investigate Mrs Joel’s complaints about the way she was initially treated by police, how her reports about her son’s disappearance were handled. 

IOPC regional director Sal Naseem said the investigation would establish ‘whether the police responded appropriately to the concerns raised that Richard was missing’, and whether the ethnicity of those involved had played a role in the handling. 

She added: ‘We will examine whether the force appropriately risk assessed those reports, and if the amount of resources the Metropolitan Police dedicated to its enquiries were suitable based on the information known by the police and the risks posed.

‘As there is a mandatory requirement for police forces to refer to us incidents which result in a death or serious injury, we will examine the actions and decisions of the police when dealing with the missing person report made in respect of a vulnerable young man.

‘We will also consider whether Richard’s or his mother’s ethnicity played a part in the way the initial reports of his disappearance were handled.’

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