Six weeks after Owami Davies disappeared, the Metropolitan Police say they still have 40,000 hours of CCTV camera footage and other devices to sift through in their search for the student nurse.
If it’s not quite looking for a needle in a haystack, the force insists it’s devoting enormous resources and elite detectives to searching for someone in a city of over 8 million inhabitants, without knowing if a crime has been committed.
Davies, 24, with a seemingly bright future, left his home in Grays, Essex on July 4.
Her mother says her nickname was “Princess” because she loved Disney. Davies’ family endures a nightmare, and in a country full of surveillance cameras, there are few traces of her.
The Met’s search of 10,000 hours of footage produced footage placing her in Croydon on July 7. She was seen walking with a man, in a store and later on the street.
Despite calls, she has had no contact with her family, missing persons charities or the police. His cell phone and bank cards have also provided no clues since his last sighting.
Desperate mother Nicol issued calls for her daughter to make contact and fears for her safety grew – as did the family’s anguish.
Officers met met her at the start of the police search, it was revealed, but did not realize who she was. She was reported missing to Essex Police on July 6, police confirmed, two days after Owami last left the family home.
At around 11pm that evening, Met officers attended a house in Clarendon Road, Croydon, 30 miles away, to investigate concerns about a woman’s welfare.
A source said the woman only gave her first name as Owami, and footage recorded by officers’ body cameras showed her in a distressed state. Officers offered to call an ambulance for her, but she refused.
Crucially, the Met insists, she was not at this stage listed as missing or at high risk, and her contact details were not on the national police computer. Moreover, since no criminal offense was involved, the officers had no authority to do anything else.
A Met spokesperson said: ‘The interaction recorded on the video carried by the officers was viewed by members of the Independent Advisory Group and Owami’s family to ensure openness and transparency.
“At the time of the call, Owami was not marked as a missing person in the national police systems. She had only been reported to her local force as missing earlier the same day.
“As a result of the ensuing missing person investigation, it was later confirmed – on July 13 – that the woman officers spoke to was Owami.”
Essex Police were in charge of the investigation until July 23 and insist they have classified Davies as high risk, treating the matter with due seriousness.
Concerns over the 24-year-old’s health meant she was seen as vulnerable.
The revelation that Met officers spoke to Davies is set to be investigated by police watchdog the Independent Office for Police Conduct after a forcible referral. Currently, the IOPC Fund is considering what action to take and the scope of any investigation.
For the Met, plagued by a breakdown in public trust and problems with its services to women and ethnic minorities, claims that it did not take the matter seriously enough were feared and dismissed .
A Met spokesperson said: ‘Our efforts to find Owami are being led by a team of detectives from the Met’s Specialist Crime Command who are experts in complex investigations. They are backed by the resources of local police teams and work day and night to pursue all possible investigative leads.
“As of Tuesday this week, they had recovered 50,000 hours of CCTV and viewed 10,000 hours as they worked to confirm any sightings and trace Owami’s movements. They continue to conduct additional patrols in the area where she was last seen in an effort to identify new leads.
“Any suggestion that the investigation is not being taken seriously and that we are not fully dedicated to finding Owami is not only disappointing, it is simply not supported by the facts.”
Police have arrested and released on bail five men, two suspected of murder and three for kidnapping. The Guardian understands detectives believe at least some of them were known to Davies before July 4.
Missing person reports are a difficult issue for the forces. They take time and often no crime has been committed – someone just wants to disappear. In the year to May 2022, the Met received 43,040 missing person reports involving 21,072 people. Of these, approximately 5,000 reports were assessed as high risk.
A police source said: “Even if you find them, it doesn’t mean you can bring them back. It’s not a crime to disappear. »
Nor are detectives aware of Davies’ lack of contact with his family and his inability to show up for work.
She was about to complete her education, having secured a job at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Health Trust. She had worked in the accident and emergency department during the Covid crisis and was interested in studying infectious diseases, according to her family.
More calls from the Met are expected this week, and for Davies’ family, the agony continues.
Anyone with information can call the police on 020 8721 4622, or to remain anonymous contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online.