Bristol police 'made errors over call to help find woman'

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A woman was found dead after police made errors handling a missing persons report about her, investigators found.

Call-handling errors delayed Avon and Somerset Police's response to a request from another force for help to find Louise Jones, the police watchdog said.

Ms Jones, 20 and from Redditch, was later found dead, at Rodway Hill, Bristol, on 30 March 2012.

The IPCC watchdog found four call handlers had not recorded the right information or reacted quickly enough.

'Opportunity lost'

Start Quote

After Louise's death we asked a specialist police search advisor to review the case and his recommendations have been implemented”

End Quote Supt Paul Richards Avon and Somerset Police

The civilian staff faced internal misconduct proceedings, with two receiving words of advice after their cases were proven.

No further action was taken in relation to the other two.

On the day Ms Jones died, West Mercia Police contacted Avon and Somerset Police to request they carry out urgent enquiries to trace her as she was believed to be in their force area.

Guido Liguori, from the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), said: "My heartfelt sympathies go to Louise's family and friends for the tragic loss they have suffered following this young woman's death.

"Our investigation found that errors made by Avon and Somerset call handlers meant there was not an immediate police response and an opportunity to start the search for Louise sooner was lost."

'Tragic outcome'

Call recordings and incident logs were reviewed by the IPCC during its investigation.

Avon and Somerset Police said it had recognised failings in its initial response to the call for help.

Supt Paul Richards, head of professional standards for the force, said: "Without doubt we should have acted as soon as we got the information but this might not have affected the final tragic outcome.

"After Louise's death we asked a specialist police search advisor to review the case and his recommendations have been implemented.

"We take our responsibilities around missing people very seriously and our officers and staff will do all we can to find people when they need our help."

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