Met accepts IOPC recommendations after investigation into photos taken at murdered sisters crime scene
Our investigation into the inappropriate photographs taken at the crime scene of murdered sisters Nicole Smallman and Bibaa Henry in Wembley has led to changes in how Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) managers tackle unprofessional behaviour in the ranks.
Nicole and Bibaa were murdered in June 2020 and their killer jailed for life in October 2021.
Two officers guarding the scene - PCs Deniz Jaffer and Jamie Lewis - took photos and shared it with colleagues. Jaffer also shared the images with members of the public via mobile phone messaging service WhatsApp.
Following our investigation, they were both sentenced to two years and nine months in jail in December 2021. Following a misconduct hearing, Lewis was dismissed from the force. Jaffer had resigned before his misconduct hearing, which found he would have been dismissed without notice had he still been a serving officer.
Our investigation also identified areas of learning for the MPS regarding the culture at Forest Gate police station, where Jaffer and Lewis were based.
In November 2020 we issued fast-time learning which have now been embedded as official learning recommendations.
We recommended that the MPS:
- review whether supervisors and senior management at Forest Gate Police Station are taking personal responsibility to identify and eliminate patterns of inappropriate behaviour; and promote a safe and open culture which makes clear to officers and staff that they are dutybound to challenge and report behaviour that does not align with the Code of Ethics
- take steps to ensure all officers within Forest Gate Police Station conform to the expectations of their behaviour under the Code of Ethics, whilst on and off duty, and are aware that failure to do so could severely damage the public’s confidence in policing.
The MPS agreed with our recommendations and has taken a number of steps since November 2020 to address the issues we identified.
Three serving MPS officers faced misconduct meetings last month for failing to challenge or report the inappropriate photographs when they were either shared with, or shown, to them.
The officers were given written warnings.
The IOPC’s investigation began in July 2020 after evidence came to light - following the arrest of Jaffer and Lewis - that other officers from the North East command unit were either aware of, viewed or received photographs of the murder victims.
It was completed in March 2021 when we found a case to answer for misconduct for the officers.
IOPC Regional Director Sal Naseem said: “Our thoughts and sympathies remain with the family and friends of Nicole and Bibaa.
“The investigation we carried out into the sharing of an inappropriate WhatsApp image has ended with two officers being jailed and three more being sanctioned for their part in not challenging or reporting those who sent or shared them.
“Their actions have harmed public confidence in the police service and caused a terrible degree of distress to Nicole and Bibaa’s families.
“The grief of the family and friends of Nicole and Bibaa was worsened by the total lack of respect shown to them both by these two former officers. This conduct robbed them of their dignity.
“While individuals have been held accountable for their actions, another important element of our work is to identify learning in order to improve policing.
“The recommendations we have made will contribute to this kind of behaviour being eradicated. Police forces must be a safe place to work and there must be an environment where unprofessional behaviour can be challenged.”
During our investigation we obtained accounts from the officers involved and reviewed CCTV and phone download evidence.
Now that all proceedings have concluded we have published our reports of the investigations into Jaffer and Lewis, the three officers who faced misconduct meetings last month and our learning recommendations from the investigation into the MPS’s handling of the missing persons reports about the sisters.
Here is a summary of our outcomes for these three investigations.
In a separate investigation, which stemmed from the investigation of the crime scene photographs, we concluded that two officers had a case to answer for gross misconduct over allegations they received a photograph taken at the scene of a sudden death in January 2020, and that they improperly obtained the answers to a police driving exam.
A hearing has been arranged by the force for October.
A PC, who took and shared the photograph, has a case to answer for misconduct and will face a misconduct meeting to be arranged by the force. It is alleged that the picture was taken with a personal phone, in breach of policy, but there was no evidence to indicate it had not been taken for a legitimate policing purpose. The officer was not protecting a crime scene, therefore it was our view that there was no risk of contaminating any evidence.