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IOPC recommendations - cross border handling of missing person

The Independent Office for Police Complaints (formerly the IPCC) makes learning recommendations to the police, or other relevant organisations, after IOPC investigations. Recommendations can include improving practice, updating policy or changes to training.

Cross border handling of missing person

Date of recommendation:

Friday, 13 November 2015


A member of the public contacted Hertfordshire Constabulary to raise concerns about a man's whereabouts andwelfare. The call handler classified the call as a concern for welfare and not a missing person. Because his addresswas in Essex, the call was transferred to Essex Police. Due to issues with cross border referrals, which meant hisEssex address did not appear on the transfer log, Essex Police did not conduct any enquiries, but sent a query toHertfordshire Constabulary, which remained unanswered due to the Hertfordshire log being closed. The member ofthe public called Essex Police almost four hours later for an update and this triggered a search by both forces, whichled to him being found dead.


The IOPC recommends that the National Association for Police Fleet Managers (NAPFM) shares advice andguidance on the use of finger trap shields in police vehicles. This should specifically relate to any vehicle fitted with acage used to transport detained persons.This follows a case where an individual who was calm and compliant was placed in the back of a police van. Whenthe doors were shut, he sustained a serious injury having got his finger trapped in the cage door hinge. During theconsultation period with the NAPFM, the IOPC have been made aware of work that has already begun to highlightthis issue and develop guidance.

Accepted action:

This was raised to the NAPFM technical group, which prompted the following actions:-

  • The national Technical specifications, as attached (used for any national procurement for current and future cellvans), includes a specific requirement for "anti-finger-trap design hinge". This element will remain a requirement infuture designs.
  • All fleet managers have been made aware of the issue and asked to check their current cell van fleet.
  • A fleet manager helpfully shared the rubber guard and signage used by West-Midlands Police, and this has also beencirculated as good practice.
  • This is now business as usual, and picked up by the response cell van specification.

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