Sunday, June 16, 2024

Police call handler training must improve following Breck Bednar murder in Grays

POLICE call handlers must be trained to deal with reports of grooming more effectively following the murder of a 14-year-old boy in Grays who was befriended online by a sex predator.

Lewis Daynes, 19, was jailed for life for slashing the throat of Breck Bednar in a "sexual and sadistic" attack after luring the teenager to his Essex flat in February 2014.

A damning Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) report found that a call handler for Surrey Police failed to take Breck’s mother’s fears seriously when she alerted police that her son was being groomed online.

The IPCC said it had written to the National Police Chiefs’ Council to urge officers to share best practice nationally on dealing with grooming reports.

The investigation also found:

The Surrey Police call handler and his supervisor lacked the knowledge of dealing with grooming concerns

Breck’s mother Lorin LaFave was not provided with information about specialist agencies such as the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, which provides a reporting service and advice to parents who suspect someone of grooming their child online

A Police National Computer check should have been completed

It would have found that A PNC record existed for Daynes for a previous allegation of rape against a minor in 2011 in Essex

Ms LaFave told ITV News that she wants a public inquiry into her son’s death and will campaign to make sure other parents are aware of the risks of grooming.

She said that she mentioned grooming six times in a call to the police, but her concerns were ignored and the case was closed in less than an hour.

The police "need to be held accountable" for the level of training and management for staff, she told ITV’s Juliet Bremner.

"It’s the most horrible thing that can happen, to lose your child, especially to lose your child in such a horrific way and in such a way that he could have been saved by so many people," she added.

IPCC commissioner Jennifer Izekor told ITV News that there had been "very fundamental failings" in Breck’s case.

Ms Izekor said the support the teenager and his family needed was not given.

"I would hope not just Surrey but other police forces take note of our recommendations and make sure this doesn’t happen again," she said.

Surrey Police said a number of improvements have now been made in the contact centre following Breck’s murder.

The force said a dedicated training day for staff to identify grooming risks had been introduced.

The death of Breck Bednar has been a tragic incident for all involved and our thoughts remain with his family and friends.

Following the notification of Breck’s death, Surrey Police referred the case to the IPCC and carried out an internal investigation to identify improvements the force could make around how information is handled and shared and implemented these at the earliest opportunity.

Surrey Police takes all allegations of grooming or child sexual exploitation extremely seriously and encourages anyone who has been affected by such crimes, whether recent or non-recent, to speak with police.

Computer engineer Lewis Daynes spent months controlling and manipulating Breck after they started talking on an online gaming forum.

After luring him to his flat in Grays, Essex, Daynes used to duck tape to tie Breck’s ankles and wrists before slitting his throat – causing him to die within seconds.

Prosecutors said there was evidence of sexual activity between the two shortly before Breck was murdered.

Hours after the killing, he called 999 and claimed the pair had got into an "altercation" adding: "Only one of us came out alive".


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