Family of Matthew Mackell ‘relieved’ after talks with Kent Police over officer ‘failings’

The family of Matthew Mackell have said they are “relieved” after positive talks with Kent Police.

Matthew, aged 17, was found dead in Dunorlan Park in Tunbridge Wells. in the early hours of May 7 last year where he was found hanging at

An inquest into the schoolboy’s death revealed he had made phone calls to the police asking them to “send someone” because he was “about to kill himself”.

The calls were graded as requiring “immediate action” by the handling team, before being downgraded to “high” due to the vast area of Dunorlan Park.

Across the two days of inquest police staff and officers admitted a number of things they would have done differently “with the benefit of hindsight”.

Matthew’s father, Peter Bond, met with Assistant Chief Constable Peter Ayling at Tonbridge police station on Wednesday (July 21) to discuss the changes made by Kent Police following the tragic death.

In a statement following the meeting, Matthew’s family said: “Today’s meeting was very important for our family.

“We met with Kent Police to learn if they have changed as a result of Matty’s death, and how.

“That is our fundamental concern: to prevent any family ever having to experience what we have gone through.

“We are relieved that Kent Police have brought about some changes relating to training of their staff.

“There were so many failings to protect Matthew and so things have to change. And they can change.

“We hope Kent Police will continue to work with us to ensure a process of learning and change which honours Matty’s memory.

“We will continue to provide updates as we go through this journey for change.

“We thank everyone for their continued love and support.”

Following the inquest, the coroner set out areas for improvement for the police force in response to Matthew’s death.

These have since been addressed to enhance clarity within force policies.

Assistant Chief Constable Peter Ayling said: “On Wednesday 21 July, I spoke with Mr Bond at Tonbridge police station.

“As this was a private meeting, it would not be appropriate to comment on those discussions.

“I would emphasise that our thoughts are with the family and friends who continue to miss Matthew dearly.

“Kent Police referred this matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) following Matthew’s death and they found no evidence of misconduct by either police officers or staff.

“As was confirmed by the coroner, there were lessons for us to learn and Kent Police was issued with a section 28 recommendation which set out areas for improvement.

“All of those areas have been addressed to enhance clarity within force policies and guidance around the response to incidents where there is a threat to life.

“We will strive to respond as speedily as possible to calls for assistance and I am confident our dedicated officers and police staff, will work tirelessly in their aim to protect members of the public from harm.”

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