Police failed to warn residents a “sexual predator” was on the run from a mental Health unit.Well, if he wasn’t dangerous, why shou…
Essex Police’s Det Chief Insp Darrin Tomkins had earlier branded John Oliver, 68, an “intelligent, devious, uncontrollable, absconding sexual predator” .Might he have been found quicker if the public were alerted?
Yet the force did not inform the public when he gave the slip to medical staff from Clare House, Bowers Gifford, on a supervised shopping trip to Basildon town centre.
He was on the run for eight days before being found in a hotel in Colchester.
Who knows? But it couldn’t hurt. And at least we'd have known exactly who was at large, and what he was capable of.
Yet it took an anonymous tip-off to our newsroom, two days after Oliver fled, to prompt police to confirm he was missing.So, when they were confronted with evidence that the escape was known by the media, they were put in a bit of a panic.
Many sphincters must have been puckering in Essex Police Farce…
Police spokeswoman Helen Cook, employed in Essex Police’s press office, then said they had no information to suggest Oliver was dangerous.Except they did, even if they hadn't informed the press office.
A letter about Oliver, written by Det Chief Insp Tomkins to the North Essex Mental Health Partnership in May – four months before he went missing from Clare House – said he was declared “dangerous” by police after being released from a mental health unit in January.You mean, the sort who might have been out and about in the Essex area when he absconded?
Mr Tomkins went on: “It is clear from the information disclosed by the mental health team on April 27, 2009, that Oliver is an intelligent, devious, uncontrollable, absconding sexual predator.
“Oliver has an inherent ability to seek out/identify vulnerable individuals.”
How did he get to be sent to a non-secure unit, anyway?
Well, certainly not because anyone paid any attention to DCI Tomkins, that’s for sure:
Mr Tomkins said Oliver was unsuitable for residential care – such as a unit like Clare House – because he continually preyed on vulnerable people.So hopefully, sphincters are puckering in the mental health services too, now this has all come to light…
But the senior officer also believed Oliver posed an even greater risk.
He continued: “The police suggest the concept of releasing him into the community exposes him to a far wider range and number of such individuals and that actually this is far more dangerous as it is completely without control.”
What do the police now have to say for themselves?
Supt Steve Worron, of Basildon police, defended the police by saying officers made “measured decisions” about what they tell the public.I think everyone will find your measurements wanting in this case…
Donna Veasey, Essex Police spokeswoman, said: “Publicising missing people is one tactic the police use in trying to trace them.There’s an element of ‘warning the public’ too, Donna. Did that not occur to you?
“There are many other inquiries which police conduct to look for someone who is missing.”
Heather Watts, spokeswoman for Essex Police, added: “Based on the information the press office was given at the time, we had no reason to suspect that John Oliver was dangerous.”Or ‘it’s not my fault, guv, I wasn’t given the right information’.
Nor were we, sweetie…