Manchester

No GMP officers deployed to find vulnerable teenager, IPCC says

Old Kays Park in Tottington, Bury Image copyright Google
Image caption The body of Thomas Gallagher was found in Old Kays Park in Tottington, Bury, in 2015

No officers were deployed to search for a vulnerable teenager who was later found dead, the police watchdog said.

Thomas Gallagher, 16, was discovered by a member of the public in Old Kays Park in Tottington, Bury, in July 2015.

An inquest concluded the schoolboy took his own life and police shortcomings did not contribute to his death.

But an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) report found Greater Manchester Police's (GMP) conduct was "below the standard expected."

Staffing shortages

The teenager's parents criticised police, saying there had been serious failings in the handling of the case, the Manchester Evening News reports.

In a statement they said: "We explained his vulnerabilities concerning his recent mental health history. Subsequently two members of the public found Tom five hours later. GMP failed to respond at all."

The IPCC found police delayed looking for the schoolboy because of staffing shortages in the Bury division, which were "foreseeable".

"No officers were deployed...until the discovery of Thomas' body some five hours later," the investigator found.

'Tragedy'

The report said the response of four officers and a radio operator was "unsatisfactory".

It said the conduct of an inspector, a police sergeant, an acting police sergeant, a police constable and a civilian radio operator, "whilst not amounting to misconduct, did fall below the standard expected."

IPCC Associate Commissioner, Guido Liguori, recommended GMP "should address" the "under-resourcing" of the police division in Bury as well as "ensuring police officers and staff are properly supported" for "the benefit of the local community."

Ch Supt Chris Sykes from GMP's Bury division said: "Thomas Gallagher's death was a tragedy and our deepest condolences remain with his family.

"Unfortunately, it was not possible for GMP to resource the original missing report, due to staff abstractions and a higher than usual number of incidents on the night."

Changes have already been implemented in Bury, including new shift patterns, to ensure the force could respond to unanticipated spikes in demand in future, he added.

He said: "Whilst the jury concluded that none of the shortcomings in GMP's response caused or contributed in any way to Tom's death, we fully acknowledge the comments made by the jury in delivering their conclusion at today's inquest. We will also await the coroner's report on any recommendations."

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