DAVE AND THE ESTABLISHMENT
Allen's somewhat delayed reply to Dave's solicitor
regarding the interviewing of Drew after she was found
Our reference: RG/2773/2002
Metropolitan Police Service
Greenwich Police Station
31 Royal Hill
London SE10 8RR
Telephone 0208 853 1212
Facsimile 0208 2845390
Date: 31st May 2002
Bennett Welch Solicitors
I refer to your letter of 15th May 2002 in respect of your clients Mr and Mrs D.Courtney. I apologise for the delay in replying, but I have only recently returned from holiday.
The facts of this matter differ in some repects, as far as I am concerned, than as laid out in your letter. On Friday 3rd May I attended Mr and Mrs Courtney's address with Ds McArdle from the Child Protection Team, to inform them that Drew had been found. DS McArdle served on them papers that informed them that Drew had been taken into Police Protection and setting out the procedures around this. We then had an amicable discussion with Mr and Mrs Courtney about how the matter would progress. They agreed to Drew being accomodated over the Bank Holiday weekend, once the Police Protection had finished, until the Social Worker, Steve Cusworth, could recommence work on Tuesday 7th May. They were aware that they would not be in contact with Drew over that weekend and that they would not know where she was being accomodated. They were also aware that she would be fully debriefed in respect of where she had been and who she had been with while she was missing. It is standard Metropolitan Police Policy to debrief children in these circumstances. As far as we were aware, Mr and Mrs Courtney fully understood the issues and were in full agreement to what was proposed.
On Saturday 4th May, at about 10 a.m. I received a request to telephone Adrian Gillan from your office, which I did. He told me that he was representing Mr and Mrs Courtney and asked about the debrief interview. I informed him that Drew had already had a preliminary debrief by DS McArdle on Friday and that we would probably be doing a full debrief that day, Saturday. Mr Gillan requested that he, or a representative from your company, be present at the interview. I refused this request. My grounds for doing so were because this would not have been in the interests of Drew and would have been completely contrary to the provisions of the Memorandum of Good Practice on child interviews. Such a presence might have also inhibited Drew from revealing issues around her disappearance and what had happened while she had been missing. In addition we had concerns for the well being of any person who she might reveal as being involved with helping her while she was away, if their details became known to Mr and Mrs Courtney.. This had been discussed with Mr and Mrs Courtney on the Friday and the reasons fully explained to them. That was the last contact I had with anybody from your office over that weekend. The debrief was conducted at about 1230 on Saturday by DC Fisher from my office, assisted by DC Hunt from the Child Protection Team. I understand that further telephone contact was made over the weekend from your office, to Acting Superintendent Alien and to the Child Protection Team, but by then the interview had been concluded, so the advice given was that you would need to speak to Steve Cusworth on the Tuesday and discuss the progression of the matter then.
The issues raised by Drew in the interview that relate to family matters have been dealt with by DS McArdle and are, I understand, being treated initially as a single agency investigation by the Social Services. Drew did not relate any information, in relation to what occurred while she was missing, that would lead us to suspect that any criminal offences had occurred. In particular you raise the issue of her possibly having a relationship with an older man, the only time this has ever been mentioned is as a speculative possibility by Mr and Mrs Courtney, in discussions with police while Drew was missing, and there is no evidence or even suspicion to hand at the present that she has had such a relationship. If your clients have specific information as to this issue, then I would be grateful if it could be forwarded to me as soon as possible so that an investigation can be commenced.
I hope that this addresses the concerns of Mr and Mrs Courtney and explains Police action which I consider was wholly appropriate and in the best interests of Drew. If there is anything else that I can assist with, then please do not hesitate to contact me.