Ellis Downes: Police watchdog to investigate drowning response

Ellis Downes Image copyright Downes family
Image caption Ellis Downes disappeared under the water while playing with friends in Culham

The police response to the disappearance of a teenager who drowned while playing in the River Thames is to be investigated.

The family of Ellis Downes, 16, criticised Thames Valley Police after he went missing at Culham, Oxfordshire, on 7 May.

They said they had to hire a boat and find private divers to locate his body when they were left without help.

The police watchdog confirmed it is investigating.

'Many questions'

Last week, Ellis's father Darren Downes said he believed "a lost dog" would have got better treatment than his missing son.

Guido Liguori, associate commissioner of the Independent Police Complaints Commission, said its investigation will consider whether "any lessons can be learned."

He added: "We will carry out a thorough investigation so we can try and answer the many questions that have been asked about the police response to this tragedy."

Thames Valley Police axed its specialist search and recovery team, which carried out underwater operations, as a result of budget cuts in 2014.

Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Ross has apologised for the lack of support, compassion and information given to the family.

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