West Yorkshire Police 'failures' in missing woman search

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West Yorkshire Police said it had accepted the watchdog's findings

A review of a police force's handling of the search for a missing woman who was later found dead has concluded "more could have been done".

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said West Yorkshire Police failed to carry out an adequate risk assessment or properly review information about the missing person.

IOPC investigators found evidence of potential misconduct by two officers involved in the 2016 operation.

The force has accepted the findings.

Tania Clifford, 18, was reported missing by her father on 4 November, a day after she had been discharged from a mental health unit in Leeds.

She was found dead in Smithy Lane, Cookridge, on 5 November.

'Tragic case'

In a statement the IOPC, formerly the Independent Police Complaints Commission, said: "We found evidence of a case to answer for misconduct for a police sergeant and an inspector.

"The findings were based on failures to conduct an adequate risk assessment in line with the force policy on handling reports of missing people, and the failure to properly review information given to them about Ms Clifford's personal circumstances and concerns about her mental health."

The police watchdog said the sergeant had been dealt with by way of "non-disciplinary action", while the inspector had retired before misconduct proceedings could be held.

As a result the IOPC made a recommendation that the force's human resources department should liaise with the professional standards department about retirement applications.

Regional director Miranda Biddle said the change, which has been implemented, would mean "proper processes are followed when dealing with officers who retire or resign during ongoing investigations".

West Yorkshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Catherine Hankinson said: "This was a tragic case in which a vulnerable lady sadly took her own life.

"We accepted in full their findings and acted on them accordingly."

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