ON FRIDAY afternoon (Feb 27th) we received word that a pupil at Ockendon Academy may have passed away.
We made inquiries and were signposted to the statement by the chair of governors, rev. Brian Duckworth, on the schools website.
By Friday evening, we published our story.
Later that evening, our attention was drawn to a video on youtube channel (called Toni Connell) that appeared to show a young girl telling her "cyberbullying story) via a series of messages on cards.
On Saturday morning, we asked Essex Police whether they were conducting any form of criminal investigation?
By that morning (Feb 28th) we received a reply that "there were no suspicious circumstances" surrounding the death.
We have no wish to get on any high moral ground and appreciate the work the police do but we were a little bit surprised that what looked like it could be quite a long and complicated matter involving information technology, the myriad of social media sources and just general pursuit of leads, was all tied up, in just under 36 hours.
So, a few days later, we asked the following question
"Could we just confirm that Essex Police feel that between the moment they attended the location of death to the moment they concluded that there were no suspicious circumstances, that you are totally confident that you robustly investigated whether any offence in respect of the Protection from Harassment Act (1997), Malicious Communications Act (1988), Communications Act (2003) and Computer Misuse Act (1990) had been committed?"
The reply was:
"Police attended an address in Frances Gardens, South Ockendon, on February 26, following reports that a teenager was unwell. A 15-year-old girl was treated at the scene and then taken to hospital for treatment but she sadly died in hospital the next day. Her death is not being treated as suspicious and no other offences have been disclosed. A police report is now being prepared for the coroner so an inquest can establish the full circumstances of her death."
Our job is to ask questions and so, that is what we have just done and what, we will continue to do.
We just hope there isn’t a stray e mail, a stray instagram, a stray tweet, a stray scrawled message in a book, just something. But hey, if it has all been wrapped up in thirty six hours, then there we are. Not as if Essex Police are under investigation over a lack of robustness in investigating crimes, is it?