A three day inquest has concluded at the Kent Coroner’s Court, which examined the death of 17 year Matthew Mackell.
On 6 May 2020, 17 year-old Matthew Mackell called Kent Police many times for help before taking his own life in Dunorlan Park. He was found by a member of the public the following morning. Matthew left behind two brothers and his father, Michael Bond.
Matthew excelled in school but struggled with the isolating effects of the pandemic. Matthew would have turned 18 years-old recently, on 13 April.
Michael Bond, father of Matthew Mackell stated:
The Inquest showed that Kent Police had the ability to accurately pin point where Matthew was, and so urgently help him – but that they did not do that as their staff were ignorant of, and had not been trained in, how to access a crucial feature of their computer mapping systems. This was a major and, as the Coroner determined, systemic failing by Kent Police. I believe that had they sent someone to Dunorlan Park, they may have found and helped him.
The Inquest showed that Kent Police did not treat Matthew’s calls to them as a suicide risk, and, heartbreakingly, his calls were downgraded as less important. It is helpful that officers of Kent Police have admitted that was the wrong thing to have done, and not in accordance with their policies. The Inquest also showed that they did not check if a police patrol was available, and did not send one out to look for and help Matthew. They also did not call him back to check up on him.
Matthew was an amazing young man, and a wonderful son, and we will miss him forever. We are heartbroken. No family should ever have to suffer the loss of their child, knowing that they called for help and no one came.
I remain very worried that if this type of incident happens again, that staff may not be aware of guidance or procedure, and may not be appropriately trained. Kent Police still don’t seem to have enough training, even a year after Matthew’s death.
We are relieved that the Coroner is going to write to express his concerns, which we share with him, to Kent Police, about training of police officers. I believe there needs to be urgent action to prevent any further tragedies like this and to stop any other families experiencing what we have been, and continue, to go through.
If the death of our Matthew can achieve anything by way of change, that would be at least some small consolation.
I want to say thank you to the police, ambulance service and everyone else for all of their support during the most difficult time of our lives.
Daniel Cooper, Solicitor for Michael Bond:
In engaging in the Inquest, Matthew’s family want one thing: for Kent Police to learn from what has happened. The family want the police to ensure they protect those most in need.
It is very concerning that the Inquest demonstrated that frontline staff still appear not to have received sufficient training, or lack knowledge, as to how to deal with suicide situations. We hope they will take urgent action.
Michael Bond, father of Matthew, was represented by Daniel Cooper of Imran Khan and Partners and Michael Spencer of Doughy Street chambers.
Matthew’s friends are fundraising for Papyrus, the Suicide Prevention Charity.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 0207 404 3004 for further details.