Examining the Role of Race in the Slow Response to the Disappearance and Murder of Two Women by the Police
The slow response of the police to the disappearance and subsequent murder of Bibaa Henry, 46, and Nicole Smallman, 27, has been called into question by their mother, Mina Smallman. The bodies of the two women were discovered two days after they went missing in June 2020, in Fryent Gardens, Wembley. Post-mortem tests revealed that the women died from multiple stab wounds. Two officers, who allegedly took selfies with the bodies, were arrested and suspended. The officers, based on the North East Command, remain suspended from duty according to The Met.
Ms Smallman suggested that the police’s handling of the investigation into her daughters’ deaths was hindered by their race, which she believes contributed to a lack of urgency in the response. She compared this to the recent Sarah Everard tragedy, which sparked a massive police response and extensive media coverage. Ms Smallman expressed that the support received in response to Ms Everard’s case was not equally extended to her daughters’ case. She criticized the police and emphasized the need for accountability when dealing with cases involving missing persons.
Ms Smallman reported that she had complained to the Metropolitan Police about the delay in finding her daughters and believes that it was the family’s search that led to the discovery of Bibaa and Nicole’s bodies. Her comments shed light on the systemic racism prevalent in law enforcement institutions and the need to address it to ensure fair treatment and justice for all victims.
Ms Smallman expressed her emotional distress and acknowledged the gravity of the situation faced by Sarah Everard’s family, as it brought back painful memories of her daughters’ deaths. She spoke about the agony of losing a child under such circumstances and the impact it has had on her family.
The Metropolitan Police issued a statement in response to the incident, offering condolences to the family of Bibaa and Nicole and stating that the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is considering the actions of police when the women were reported missing. One officer based in the North West Command has been advised they are under investigation but has not been suspended or on restricted duties. The IOPC continues to cooperate with the MPS on all matters and keep the families of Bibaa and Nicole updated.
As the one-year anniversary of the murder of the two women approaches, their mother remains broken beyond words. Danyal Hussein, 19, of Guy Barnett Grove in southeast London, has pleaded not guilty to the murder charges and is set to appear for trial on June 7. This case highlights the need for a comprehensive review of police procedures and policies to ensure that all cases, regardless of the victim’s race, receive the same level of attention and urgency in response.