Officers who missed Tia's body in grandmother's New Addington home will not face sack

Officers who missed Tia's body in grandmother's New Addington home will not face sack
November 20, 2012
Croydon Today

TWO bungling police officers who failed to find Tia Sharp's body while they searched her grandmother's New Addington home will not face the sack, a Met source has revealed.

The constable and "supervising" sergeant – part of a team of officers who scoured the loft because sniffer dogs were not trained to – have received a "minor" telling off, despite the blunders making it harder for experts to establish the 12-year-old's cause of death.

Tia's remains were missed during three searches, which has since led to one of the officer's being pulled from specialist search duties. The first bungled search, two days after she went missing, delayed finding the body for five days.

A police source told the Advertiser: "It is the most minor form of discipline. This is at the bottom of the scale.

"It's like when you go to court, you can get life imprisonment or you can get an absolute discharge. It is a telling off but it's a minor one. Nobody's job is at threat."

The source added: "It strikes me as odd, that when a policeman makes a mistake people want to sack him, but when a news reader gets their lines wrong nobody complains.

"Part of frontline operations is you're going to make mistakes. The constable has been taken off [search] duties but I don't know what's happened to the supervising sergeant."

The source explained dogs were not taken into the loft, where the schoolgirl's body was found, because they are not trained to walk along the narrow joists and soft flooring typical of roof spaces. "Their feet would go straight through the floor," they said.

In August we reported how forensic pathologist Dr Stuart Hamilton suspects the Met blunders will have "absolutely" contributed to a post-mortem's failure to find how and why Tia died, making it harder to prove she was murdered in court.

Despite anger within sections of the community over the bungles, New Addington councillor Tony Pearson said tougher disciplinary action against the officers is not necessary.

He said: "It will never change the investigation. It was difficult for everyone concerned and the key for the family is to make sure there is justice for Tia, not to have a witch hunt on individuals."

But changes have since been made to the force's official guidelines since her body was found in The Lindens roof space, wrapped in a sheet and plastic bag, on August 10.

A Met spokesman said: "Two officers, a PC and a PS [sergeant] have received words of advice.

"A number of organisational learning points were identified which will be taken forward with the aim of reducing any similar errors occurring in future."

Stuart Hazell, the boyfriend of Tia's grandmother Christine Sharp, has been charged with the schoolgirl's murder and will appear at the Old Bailey to enter a plea later this year. Christine Sharp remains on bail after being arrested on suspicion of murder.


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