Police chief 'profoundly sorry' over handling of search for drowned teen


A police chief has said she is "profoundly sorry" for the lack of support given to the family of a teenage boy who drowned after going swimming.

The body of 16-year-old Ellis Downes was recovered from the River Thames late on Monday night by volunteer divers who responded to an appeal by his family, who said Thames Valley Police had failed to get their own divers to the scene.

The teenager from Harwell had not been seen since going swimming in the River Thames at Culham two days earlier.

In a video message, Thames Valley Police Assistant Chief Constable Nikki Ross said: "I am profoundly sorry for the treatment of the Downes family over the weekend, in particular the level of support, the level of compassion, the lack of information and communication that we afforded them, and in particular Mr and Mrs Downes and Ellis's two sisters.

"This fell far below the standards that we would expect from our staff and I apologise for that."

Ellis's sister Alex had appealed online for volunteers to help in the search last weekend, claiming police had begun to scale back their operation due to a lack of resources.

Thames Valley Police referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission on Wednesday following "family and community concerns" around the investigation.

A JustGiving page set up in Ellis's memory has already raised more than £3,500 for the family.