Murdered sisters’ mother dismisses Met apology after force criticised in report

The mother of two murdered sisters has dismissed an apology from the Metropolitan Police after the force’s response to their deaths was found to be below standard.

Nicole Smallman, 27, and Bibaa Henry, 46, were stabbed to death by Danyal Hussein, 19, in Fryent Country Park in Wembley, north-west London, last June, while out celebrating a birthday.

However, a report by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) found the level of service provided by the Met over the weekend when they went missing was “below the standard that it should have been”.

Their mother, Mina Smallman, said the time for apologies has “long gone” and claimed the Met’s actions suggest signs of “racial profiling, misogyny or classism”.

Fryent Park deaths
Bibaa Henry and Nicole Smallman were stabbed in a park in Wembley last June (Metropolitan Police/PA)

In a statement, Ms Smallman said: “We’re not the only parties who suffered mental anguish at the hands of the Met Police’s incompetent, reprehensible and blatant disregard of agreed procedures regarding missing persons.

“It began with the call handler’s inappropriate assertions, mishandling the call, which led to the cancellation of the missing persons alert. The inspector on the second shift made erroneous assumptions about the whereabouts of our daughters.

“We’re also of the view that his unprofessional comments about Bibaa and Nicole’s picnic suggest racial profiling, misogyny or classism.

“There were approximately 14 people – friends and family – involved in our own missing persons investigation, which started at approximately 4am on Saturday morning and ended with Nicole’s precious Adam discovering their bodies. This lasting image of his soulmate will forever remain in his mind’s eye.

“Sorry just won’t cut it. It’s too hollow.”

She added: “Sorry is something you say when you comprehend the wrong you have done and take full responsibility for it, demonstrating that by taking appropriate proportionate action – which the Met Police have failed to do.”

The force said no misconduct was found against an officer and two members of police staff but there will be action taken over their performance, which was found to be inadequate.

However, the Met said there is no suggestion that racial bias played any part in how the missing persons reports were dealt with.

The IOPC investigation found that the inspector closed the police logs after receiving information about the sisters’ possible whereabouts from a family member, but that information was “inaccurately” recorded by a communications supervisor.

This meant that missing persons inquiries for both women were not progressed properly.

Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said after the report that her “thoughts and deepest sympathies” are with the sisters’ family and friends.

Speaking to Channel 4 News, Ms Smallman said she is “trying to understand why (the Met) didn’t follow procedure” and dismissed suggestions that her daughters were at a Black Lives Matter event.

She said: “What could the explanation be? And assertions that they were at a Black Lives Matter protest… There’s notes and documents saying the inspector who closed it said… he used words like ‘chaotic celebration in the park’. Where did he get the notion that it was chaotic? It was 10 people having a picnic.”

She added: “If the Met had have done their job, cared enough, we would have been spared all the additional phone calls (and) sleepless nights worrying about ‘Where are they?’ And now they want to say sorry?”

Ms Smallman also said Dame Cressida was “very nice and charming” but “her job was essentially to protect the brand”.

Barry Gardiner, Labour MP for Brent North, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The Met really does need to have a root-and-branch reform in the way in which it operates, the way in which it treats people, and it needs to ground itself much better in the community.”