INDIA CHIPCHASE: Watchdog finds force acted 'in line with policy' when murdered 20-year-old was reported missing
The response by Northamptonshire Police when India Chipchase was reported missing was "appropriate and in line with policy", an investigation has found, even though the 20-year-old was later murdered.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has released its findings following a report compiled in the aftermath of Miss Chipchase's tragic death.
Though her missing persons' report was only rated as a "medium risk" on January 30, 2016, and though her murderer Edward Tenniswood had been arrested and bailed by police in relation to another assault matter 11 days before - the watchdog says the force acted within policy guidelines.
However, the report found Northamptonshire Police's management of detective resources at the time were found to be a "primary factor in the length of time taken to achieve the arrest."
IPCC associate commissioner Guido Liguori said: “I would again offer my condolences to India’s family and friends for their awful loss.
"We found that police actions were prompt and appropriate in responding to the report of India going missing."
India’s mother reported her 20 year-old daughter missing on 30 January 2016 and police initially graded the report as medium risk.
It was escalated to high following additional information received and police viewing CCTV footage from outside NB's nightclub in Bridge Steet.
Enquiries led police to Edward Tenniswood's home where India’s body was found. He was arrested at a hotel the following day.
The IPCC investigation examined the actions and decision-making of police after India’s disappearance and found risk assessments and enquiries were made "promptly and appropriately".
Edward Tenniswood was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder and rape of India Chipchase in August 2016.
But he had been released on police bail on January 19, 2016 over an allegation of assault dating back to 2005.
Tenniswood was identified as a suspect for the assault back in March 2015, yet he was not arrested for another 10 months.
He was then released on police bail pending further enquiries.
A number of items including "digital media" were seized from his home during a search and enquiries into the alleged offence were ongoing at the time India went missing.
While the IPCC says the police investigation conducted in 2015 "may have been progressed more swiftly", the watchdog said there was no "clear basis for concluding that would have led to him being in custody at the time of the murder."
Mr Liguori said: "While the police investigation conducted in 2015 for which Tenniswood was a suspect may have been progressed more swiftly, there is no clear basis for concluding that would have led to him being in custody at the time of the murder.
"We have shared our findings with Northamptonshire Police to help them improve practice in specific areas.”
At the conclusion of the investigation, the IPCC recommended that Northamptonshire Police: • reviews its missing person policy risk classification to ensure a rigid framework for decision making by officers • examines current policies in place for missing person and domestic violence investigations to ensure they are fully in line with approved policing practice. Northamptonshire Police has advised the IPCC it has reviewed policies to make sure they are up to date and in line with authorised professional practice, and is enhancing its training for officers.