Two Met Police officers have been arrested over “deeply disturbing” allegations they took non-official photographs of two sisters stabbed to death in a London park earlier this month.
The officers, who have not been named, were detained on suspicion of misconduct in public office, suspended from duty and an investigation has been launched by the Independent Office for Police Conduct.
Detectives believe Nicole Smallman, 27, and Bibaa Henry, 46 were killed by a stranger in Fryent Country Park, off Slough Lane, in Wembley, north-west London, after meeting friends there on June 5 to celebrate Henry’s birthday.
Scotland Yard said its directorate of professional standards was told last week about allegations that “non-official and inappropriate photographs” had been taken at the crime scene, PA Media reports.
The IOPC said the pictures were allegedly “shared with a small number of others”, adding that the Met was “handling matters involving those members of the public who may have received those images”.
The Met’s commander Paul Brogden said: “I am horrified and disgusted by the nature of these allegations; a sentiment which will be shared by colleagues throughout the organisation.
“If true, these actions are morally reprehensible, and anyone involved will be robustly dealt with.”
No one has been arrested or charged with the murder of the two women but the attacker is thought to have suffered a “significant injury” during the incident.
Police asked for anyone who knows someone in the area with an unexplained injury, particularly to their hands, to come forward with the information.
It is believed the attacker left the park via its Valley Drive entrance, with the public also being asked if they saw someone acting suspiciously in that area on the evening of June 5 and in the early hours of June 6.
The family of the victims previously told of the “devastating impact” of their loss after their bodies were found next to each other shortly after 1pm on June 7.
Brogdan said investigators have informed them of the allegations, adding: “This deeply disturbing information will no doubt have created additional trauma for a family who are already grieving the devastating loss of two loved ones.
“I can only start to imagine the impact of this; and I’d like to sincerely apologise to them for this further burden.
“I know that the wider community will share our shock and repulsion at these allegations and whilst our focus remains with Bibaa and Nicole’s family we are also listening to the concerns our communities and key stakeholders will want to raise about these allegations.”
IOPC director for London Sal Naseem said: “These are sickening allegations and when we were made aware by the Metropolitan Police, we acted quickly to arrest the officers involved in order to seize vital evidence.
“The victims’ family are naturally extremely distressed at this turn of events and we are ensuring that they are updated as our investigation is progressing.”
The IOPC is separately investigating how the Met handled calls from worried family and friends of the sisters after they went missing.
The two police officers, who are based on the Met’s North East Command, have been bailed pending further enquiries.