Owami Davies: police issued CCTV images showing wrong woman – The Guardian

Met hurriedly apologised and withdrew images that it initially said showed missing woman in a shop
The Metropolitan police issued pictures of the wrong black woman in an early appeal for information about the missing student nurse Owami Davies, it has emerged.
As the force’s handling of the case faces increased scrutiny, it has come to light that Scotland Yard issued CCTV images on 3 August that it said showed Davies in a shop in Croydon, but in fact showed another woman.
The Met hurriedly apologised and withdrew the images and re-issued pictures of Davies.
Recalling the images, the Met said: “We previously issued two still CCTV images of a woman in a shop which were titled Owami Davies shop 1/2. These images are not of Owami – please withdraw them from any publications. We will be sending out correct images ASAP and apologise for this error.”
Davies, from Grays in Essex, left her family home on 4 July, and she was last seen just after midnight on 7 July in Derby Road, West Croydon.
On Monday a spokesperson for the Met said: “The image was published in error and was removed as soon as this was realised. We have engaged proactively with the media throughout the investigation and have so far published nine appeals for information.
“Our efforts to find Owami are being led by a team of detectives from the Met’s specialist crime command who are experts in complex investigations. They are supported by resources from local policing teams and are working night and day to pursue every possible line of enquiry.”
The spokesperson continued: “Officers have recovered more than 50,000 hours of CCTV and viewed 10,000 hours as they work to confirm possible sightings and trace Owami’s movements. They continue to carry out additional patrols in the area she was last seen in an effort to identify new leads.
“We have engaged proactively with the media, issuing appeals and sharing CCTV footage and images of Owami as soon as we have confirmed sightings of her. From our first proactive appeal we made clear she was vulnerable and that we were concerned for her wellbeing. We also continue to support her family at what is a very difficult time.”
Investigators are trawling through 117 reported sightings of Davies, who had experienced periods of depression in the past for which she needed medical treatment, and had also used alcohol to deal with the condition.
During a briefing with journalists on Monday, DCI Nigel Penney said: “There is no evidence that she’s come to harm. We’re still hopeful that we’ll find her alive and well.”
Asked whether she could be sleeping rough, he said: “We’re open to all possibilities and that is one current working hypothesis, that she is in that current situation with her life.”
Over the weekend, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it was considering whether to investigate Scotland Yard after it transpired that officers had been in contact with the student nurse on the day she was reported missing.
Davies’s family reported her missing to Essex police on 6 July and the force handed the investigation to the Met police on 23 July. On Saturday the Met revealed that its officers had spoken to Davies on 6 July.
In a statement, the force said officers were called to an address in Clarendon Road, Croydon, after concerns over the welfare of a woman. Police attended and called the London ambulance service before speaking to the woman. She told the officers she did not want help and left the address before the ambulance service could attend.
Owami had not been marked as a missing person on the police database at the time. The Met only later established that the woman was Davies as a result of its missing person investigation.
The force said its professional standards body had been consulted and it was not investigating the officers. But it said the IOPC had requested that the matter was referred to it.
The Met has issued several appeals for information over Davies’s whereabouts and arrested five people – two on suspicion of murder and three on suspicion of kidnap – who were all later released on bail.
The force issued a fresh appeal at the beginning of last week, saying Davies could be in Croydon and “in need of help”.
On Thursday the British Transport Police (BTP) tweeted that the 24-year-old could still regularly be taking trains, may appear dazed or confused and may be seeking to engage with women travelling alone.
The Met said: “Owami has been depressed and in the absence of her medication may use alcohol to relieve her depression.”


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