The IPCC commissioner Rachel Cerfontyne said: “While our investigation has found that a station receptionist and a detective constable could have done more, neither were responsible for what happened to Miss Dawit.”
Cerfontyne said she was concerned by the heavy workload of the inspectors interviewed in the course of the investigation, especially “the almost unmanageable volume of work some supervisors are responsible for and the risk it creates of cases falling through the net.”
In separate allegations against Lambeth Council it was alledged that security doors that could have saved stabbed schoolgirl Arsema Dawit were left in disrepair for months after failures by council bosses.
The broken doors meant that anyone could walk off the street into the block where the former choirgirl was knifed to death in a lift on Monday. Residents in Matheson Lang Gardens, near Waterloo Station, had fought for at least three months to get the system fixed amid fears for their safety.
New ground-floor security doors were installed three days after Arsema’s death. Residents accused Lambeth council of leaving the block unprotected and allowing the killer to strike. Many had complained after a string of security breaches
A string of high-profile cases has left Scotland Yard facing accusations that it sometimes fails to take warnings seriously. Last year it emerged that John Worboys, a London taxi driver, had been left free to attack hundreds of women because officers did not believe victims’ reports of being assaulted.
Weeks after Worboys was jailed, Kirk Reid was convicted of more than 20 attacks, including two rapes. He had apparently come to the police’s attention 12 times before he was arrested and charged.
Seven days after the death of the 15-year-old schoolgirl around 175 people joined the family outside Matheson Lang Gardens at the junction of Frazier Street and Baylis Road. The 30-minute memorial gathering opened and closed in silence with many neighbours holding lighted candles.
Arsema had a traditional burial in Eritrea in a heartbreaking ceremony on an ancient hillside where thousands came to weep and pray. Women sobbed openly and Arsema’s distraught father collapsed with grief as his daughter was lowered into her grave.
In this setting of almost biblical simplicity – cattle and donkeys wandered through the eucalyptus trees as four Orthodox priests intoned the requiem – one question was on everyone’s lips. How did this much-loved girl, torn from her roots to escape a cruel military regime in Eritrea, come to die horrifically in England, the country that had promised her a life of peace and safety?
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Independent Investigation Commissioner’s Report
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One week on: candlelit vigil for Arsema Dawit
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Stabbed teenager Arsema Dawit was just moments from safety
3 June 2008
Mother blames police failure for girl’s murder
20 May 2009