Glasgow & West Scotland

Report reveals police 'failings' in missing woman case

Janet McKay Image copyright Police Scotland

A report has highlighted "failings" in how police handled the case of a woman who was found dead eight days after she was reported missing.

The body of 88-year-old Janet McKay, who had dementia, was found in Clydebank on 24 September 2015.

The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner was asked to review the handling of the case after it emerged a possible sighting was not passed on.

The Pirc report found "procedural and investigative failings".

It said officers had failed to take a statement from Mrs McKay's carer, who had visited her home in the Knightswood area of Glasgow on the day she went missing and would have been able to describe what she had been wearing.

The following day, police supervisors failed to act promptly in response to a reported sighting of Mrs McKay on the day she had gone missing.

Further delay

Two days after Mrs McKay went missing, officers failed to pass on "significant information" about a sighting.

When this failure was recognised four days later, an officer failed to pass on the address of the person who had seen Mrs McKay - causing a further delay in progressing the information.

Image caption CCTV footage later emerged showing Janet McKay in the Clydebank area on the day of her disappearance

The report also said many officers had not followed standard procedures because they had were not fully aware of the guidance for missing person inquiries.

Although police had conducted a "timely" search for Mrs McKay, officers failed to obtain initial statements from key witnesses and failed to accurately record some of the initial information gathered.

Commissioner Kate Frame made a number of recommendations.

These included making all officers and staff aware of the procedures to be followed in such cases, and putting measures in place to ensure that the failings did not happen again.

She also said police should consider setting up a major incident room in high risk, vulnerable missing person investigations.

'Valuable lessons'

In a statement, Mrs McKay's family said: "We are aware of the findings of the Pirc report and are pleased to note that a number of recommendations have been made.

"We hope that going forward Police Scotland will look carefully at these recommendations and that valuable lessons have been learned.

"This has been a difficult time for our family. Janet was a loving mother and grandmother and we are thankful for the support we have received, but would ask for our privacy to be respected to allow us to come to terms with her loss in peace."

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Williams apologised on behalf of Police Scotland and offered his "heartfelt condolences" to Mrs McKay's family and friends.

"I fully accept the findings from the review by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) and Police Scotland will continue to work with them to ensure all the lessons identified are addressed and built into our missing person investigations," he said.

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