The mother of two sisters who were murdered in a London park has criticised the Metropolitan Police after officers allegedly shared “inappropriate” photographs of the crime scene.
Nicole Smallman, 27, and Bibaa Henry, 46, are believed to have been stabbed to death by a stranger at Fryent Country Park in Wembley, north-west London, in the early hours of June 6.
While no-one has been charged with their murder, two police officers have been arrested on suspicion of misconduct in a public office after claims emerged they had taken “non-official” photographs of the crime scene.
The sisters’ mother Mina Smallman told the BBC that the pictures “dehumanised” her children.
“This has taken our grief to another place,” she said.
“If ever we needed an example of how toxic it has become, those police officers felt so safe, so untouchable, that they felt they could take photographs of dead black girls and send them on.
“It speaks volumes of the ethos that runs through the Metropolitan Police.”
Scotland Yard said its directorate of professional standards was told last week about allegations that “non-official and inappropriate photographs” had been taken at the murder scene.
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said the pictures were allegedly “shared with a small number of others”, adding that the Met was “handling matters involving those members of the public who may have received those images”.
Commander Paul Brogden said: "I am horrified and disgusted by the nature of these allegations; a sentiment which will be shared by colleagues throughout the organisation. If true, these actions are morally reprehensible and anyone involved will be robustly dealt with."— Metropolitan Police (@metpoliceuk) June 25, 2020
The two officers have been suspended from duty.
Mrs Smallman said: “They [her daughters] were nothing to them and what’s worse, they sent them on to members of the public.”
She claimed the police did not immediately respond to initial reports that the sisters were missing, adding that she co-ordinated a search operation on the weekend they died.
Mrs Smallman told the BBC: “I knew instantly why they didn’t care. They didn’t care because they looked at my daughter’s address and thought they knew who she was.
“A black woman who lives on a council estate.”
The IOPC is separately investigating how the Met handled calls from worried family and friends of the sisters after they went missing.
Met Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick said on Friday: “My heart goes out to the family.
“In relation to the allegations about a photograph, I am dumbfounded. I am appalled.”
Police previously released pictures of senior social worker Ms Henry, from Brent in north-west London, and photographer Ms Smallman dancing with fairy lights before they were murdered.
The pair had met with friends during the evening to celebrate Ms Henry’s birthday.
Their killer is thought to have suffered a “significant injury” during the attack before he left the park via its Valley Drive entrance.
The sisters are thought to have ended up alone in the park by around 12.30am on June 6, and police said they were in “good spirits” and “taking selfie pictures, listening to music and dancing with fairy lights” until at least 1.13am.
Their last contact with friends and family was about 1.05am, police said.