Monday, 4 January 2021

Coroner Inquest into the murders of Stephen Port postponed

The judge-led coroner inquest into the murders of Stephen Port was scheduled to start on Jan 7 at Barking Town Hall. This has been postponed at the last minute due to the escalation of the Covid emergency. We should have more information to share in the last week of January.

Background

Stephen Port was convicted of the murders of Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth and Jack Taylor between June 2014 and September 2015.  
These four young men aged between 22 and 25 years old died in Barking and Dagenham after being poisoned by Stephen Port with the chemsex drug GHB.

In November 2016, following a trial at the Old Bailey, Stephen Port was convicted of murdering all four men. He was also found guilty of sexually assaulting a number of other young men. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a whole life order. 

There has been serious concern about the late linkage of the four murders. 
Following this trial, the coroner's office appointed judge Sarah Munro QC to conduct a fresh inquest into all four deaths. 

This is separate from the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigation into the handling of these deaths by the Metropolitan Police (MPS)
Although a draft report has been received by the MPS, the final IOPC report has not published. (The LGBT+ Advisory Group has not seen this report.) The coroner's inquest has included the IOPC findings as evidence and so any publication will be delayed until at least the conclusion of the inquest.

The LGBT+ Advisory Group has been working with the MPS to identify learnings from this tragic case.  Among this work is a review of 58 cases of GHB-related deaths. The report with detailed recommendations was published in December 2020. (See our separate news item.)


Friday, 11 December 2020

Met Police publishes review of 58 GHB-related deaths

In the wake of the investigations of the murder of Stephen Port, the Metropolitan Police conducted a thorough review of 58 deaths from GHB between June 2011 and October 2015. The first objective was to identify if any these deaths were homicide cases. Also, it was an opportunity to learn lessons from the investigations into these deaths. Members of our LGBT+ Advisory Group have been active in setting up the terms of reference for the review and also in the final case closure review of the findings from each individual case.

The review did not find links to the Port murders and there is no evidence of homicide in these deaths. Nevertheless, investigative shortcomings were identified and there is an extensive list of recommendations for improvement. 

We are continuing to push for a thorough implementation of these recommendations and other organisational learning from the Port investigation.




Monday, 7 December 2020

Crime reports statistics


We share a monthly summary of homophobic (HO) and transphobic (HT) crime reports in London. These are figures for incidents and offences reported to the Metropolitan Police. Also included is the sanction detection rate (SD) for these reported cases. 


A time series for HT figures will be produced when we have more data.

It should be stressed that here is evidence that there is significantly under-reporting of hate crimes. We are working to increase the number of reported crimes shown in these statistics by working with the police to increase public confidence in reporting.

The Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC) publishes statistics on all hate crimes in London on their Hate Crime Dashboard

2020
The year started off with an elevated number of homophobic hate crimes. The COVID19 lockdown has reduced the number of reports. This has now risen back to pre-COVID levels.

2019
    2018
    2017
    2016

    Monday, 17 December 2018

    Death of Eric Michels

    We have been assisting the police in their investigation of the death of Eric Michels in Chessington. One man has been charged with murder, supply of drugs and other offences involving multiple victims today.

    One man, Eric Matuvo, has been charged with his death.He allegedly gave Mr Michels a lethal dose of GHB at his home.

    Update on Stephen Port murders 


    The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has concluded its investigation into the MPS (Metropolitan Police) investigation of the murders of Stephen Port.  The MPS received a copy of the final report in August. The IOPC received the response from MPS in October. The IOPC is making their final decisions and will prepare a final report. Once considered, it will be published as soon as possible after all parties affected (MPS, the victims' families etc) have seen the report.

    A new coroner inquest into the deaths will be opened. Due to the nature of these cases, a judge will be appointed to conduct the inquests.

    Irrespective of the IOPC review and inquest, the LGBT Advisory Group has been working with the MPS on several projects to make sure that lessons are learnt.

    1. The Homicide command has reviewed 58 deaths related to the use of the drug GHB, many of the deceased were gay men. This involved two years of work reviewing whether there are any possibility of foulplay in their deaths in the light of what we have learnt about the Port murders. The findings were shared with independent advisors for our input. No suspicious circumstances were found. The review team will produce a report in early 2019 with recommendations for future investigations.

    2. More generally, the MPS has reviewed its policy for the investigation of sudden deaths. The learning from the Port case and the GHB deaths review has been incorporated in the evaluation of this new policy.

    3. The MPS has produced guidance for reporting crimes in a chemsex scenario, either directly to the police or via third party reporting. This has been done with input from Antidote, Gay Men Health Collective, Galop and the LGBT Advisory Group. The guidance can be easily found by typing "chemsex" into the search engine on the MPS website (http://www.met.police.uk).

    Another tragic death due to GHB was reported in the press last week. The LGBT Advisory Group has been assisting in this investigation. One man has been charged with murder.

    It is clear that further community messaging is needed to promote reporting and safety messages.
    The LGBT Advisory Group will be able to assist in this work.

    Sunday, 4 November 2018

    Murder of Naomi Hersi


    The LGBT Advisory Group has been assisting the MPS investigation of the murder of Naomi Hersi, a transgender woman from north London. This has been a case with multiple cultural sensitivities. We have worked with Galop and TellMaMa to provide advice to assist their investigation and to help formulate their community facing strategies.

    The trial at the Old Bailey concluded this week. Jesse McDonald has been found guilty of murder and perverting the course of justice. He has been sentenced to life, with a minimum of 20 years. His girlfriend, Natalia Darkowska, was also found guilty of perverting the course of justice. 

    More details can be found at the MPS website.