Ding family murders: Police 'mishandled' 999 call
Police "badly mishandled" a 999 call from a teenager later found murdered with her family and sent officers to the wrong address, an independent inquiry has found.
Jifeng Ding, his wife Helen and daughters Alice, 12, and Xing, 18, were found stabbed at their Northampton home two days after the call on 1 May 2011.
Police are still hunting prime suspect Anxiang Du, 52, from Coventry.
Northamptonshire Police said it had brought in new procedures.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found the mobile phone call was "abandoned" by the caller, believed to be Xing, on 29 April, the day of the Royal Wedding.
She had not yet reached police or asked for their help when the call ended, but a BT operator alerted police to the call and gave her mobile number and rough location.
The address was then incorrectly identified as Collingtree Park and disseminated by a police call handler, which led to "crucial minutes" of police time being wasted as officers went to the wrong address.
The IPCC said not enough was done to find the correct location.
Screaming had been heard during the call, but it was prematurely closed by the force control room supervisor without sufficient consideration or effort given to establish the welfare of the caller.
"The standard by which police handled the call was unacceptable," the IPCC said.
"There was no clear force policy in place for handling abandoned 999 calls and the relevant call handler had received insufficient training."
IPCC Commissioner Amerdeep Somal said: "The recording of a specific, wrong address on the incident log misled officers into believing that all was apparently well when the reality was the extreme opposite.
"Had police used more detailed checks and a mapping system available to them, the need for a subscriber check would have been established, the correct address in Pioneer Close would have been identified and in all likelihood attended by officers within minutes."
The IPCC investigation found the force control room supervisor had a case to answer for misconduct as the decision to close the incident was taken without sufficient information or a proper risk assessment.
The call handler will be dealt with by the force for "performance issues" because his or her actions were partly a consequence of a lack of policy and training.
Businessman Anxiang Du had been running a health food business with Helen Ding and the family were killed the day after Du had lost tens of thousands of pounds in a court ruling.
Jifeng Ding was a lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University.
Apology to family
Northamptonshire Police said the force recognised that it was "unlikely" the lives of the Ding family could have been saved but there was a possibility Anxiang Du could have been at the address if the call had been correctly handled and officers dispatched.
The force said: "Northamptonshire Police acknowledges that the response to the abandoned 999 call was unacceptable.
"The IPCC report recognises that the significant range of measures which Northamptonshire Police have already implemented means that no further changes are required.
"Northamptonshire Police has written to the immediate next of kin of the Ding family to apologise for the way the call was handled."