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Mr Lakhinder Reel

Volume 301: debated on Monday 24 November 1997

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5.

If he will review the investigation by the Metropolitan police of the case of the death of Mr. Lakhinder (Ricky) Reel. [15781]

I am sure that my hon. Friend will appreciate that that is an operational matter for the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis. From what I have been told, however, it appears that the investigation conducted so far by the Metropolitan police service has been thorough and sensitive. The Metropolitan police have promised to follow up any further information that may arise. The Met are also awaiting receipt of the coroner's report. There are no grounds for me to act further at this time.

I appreciate the nature of the reply, in view of the coroner's inquest. I am also grateful for the facilities that were provided last Friday for me to meet the investigating officer, with the family present. May I ask the Home Secretary, as the police authority for London, to examine with the Commissioner three policing procedural matters? The first matter is the liaison arrangements between investigating officers in cases in which the police station nearest the home of the missing person is different from the station that is nearest to the location where the person was last sighted; the second is the communication strategy between investigating officers and the family of a missing person; and the third is the impact of major investigations on outer London policing divisions, which have recently suffered personnel losses because of the funding formula for policing in London.

My hon. Friend raises three important issues, which are worthy of consideration, and I am sure that the Commissioner will examine each of them. We have to be careful, however, not to read general points into a specific investigation until we have full information. I reiterate that it is not appropriate to comment further on the detail of the case until the coroner's report has been received.