A missing man was found decomposing at a home in Leeds after miscommunication by police meant the address where he was discovered was not checked for 19 hours.
The confusion over which addresses had been checked in search of the man prior to his discovery in November are described in a report by West Yorkshire Police’s professional standards department.
It would appear that number 10 was not checked for over 19 hours after he had been reported missing due to ambiguity.West Yorkshire Police report
The force, which responds to thousands of missing person reports a year, had been urged to learn lessons about how they share information and the terminology used by officers.
The report details how the man’s mother reported him as missing at 9.47pm on November 16. A sergeant in the Leeds District Hub reviewed the log of the incident at 10.42pm and graded the matter as ‘medium risk’.
At 12.07am a police unit was sent out to carry out address checks, and then 13 hours later another officer was asked to carry out further checks on properties linked to the man.
As a result of information given by the district hub, he believed two possible home addresses for the man in the Hyde Park area, provided by his mother, had already been checked.
At 2.35pm he checked house number 42 and was told the missing man did not live there. He then walked a short distance to house number 10 on the same street and found the front door ajar.
The report said: “On entering the officer found the male deceased in the first floor living room with signs of decomposition.
“It would appear that number 10 was not checked for over 19 hours after he had been reported missing due to ambiguity. This ambiguity was contributed to by a number of members of staff.
“It would appear that the ambiguity arose originally when the hub supervisor reviewed the log and requested that a unit attend the males home address without specifying which one they meant.”
Among the lessons to be learned are to avoid using ambiguous phrases like ‘home address’ when searching for missing people, and being more specific about the addresses where checks are required.