Investigation into police's handling of missing mental patient
PUBLISHED: 15:35 03 August 2009 | UPDATED: 16:05 11 May 2010
AN independent enquiry will investigate the timeliness and thoroughness of the police response in the case of a missing mental patient who was later found dead. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating Cambridgeshire Constabu
AN independent enquiry will investigate the "timeliness and thoroughness" of the police response in the case of a missing mental patient who was later found dead.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating Cambridgeshire Constabulary's reaction to the disappearance of Steve Valentine, following a complaint by his mother.
Mr Valentine, a patient at Kneesworth House hospital in Old North Road, Bassingbourn was reported missing to police at just after 6pm on October 6 last year. Staff from Kneesworth House gave officers two potential addresses where he may be found, but he was unable to be found.
Four hours after the initial report, Kneesworth House staff informed the police that there had been a sighting of him that evening, drinking in a pub close to a railway station.
They also reported to police that Mr Valentine had not taken his medication for epilepsy with him, and offered further information about Mr Valentine's condition and history which indicated potential risks to himself and the public.
He was found dead at an address in Wimbledon at just after 9pm on October 7. An inquest at Westminster Coroner's Court in December last year into Mr Valentine's death recorded a verdict of misadventure.
It took police nearly 24 hours to generate relevant missing person's paperwork following Mr Valentine's disappearance, and the IPCC said that, following an initial assessment, they have decided that the case merits an independent investigation.
IPCC Commissioner, Rachel Cerfontyne, said: "This was a report of a vulnerable and disturbed patient, without his medication, absconding from a rehabilitation unit.
"It raises issues around the safety of the missing patient himself and the protection of the wider public - regrettably Mr Valentine was subsequently found dead having travelled quite some distance.
"The timeliness and thoroughness of the police response to this serious incident merits close examination and I have decided there will be an independent IPCC investigation. She continued, "We will be looking at what actions police took to find and return Mr Valentine, what priority level was given to the search, and to what extent there was liaison with other agencies.