Senior officer says lessons will be learned after Matthew McCallan’s death

Senior officer says lessons will be learned after Matthew McCallan’s death

Matthew McCallan, 15, who was missing and found dead on Monday (PSNI handout/PA)

A senior police officer has said the circumstances around the death of a teenager in Co Tyrone at the weekend will be examined and lessons learned.

Matthew McCallan, 15, was missing from the early hours of Sunday morning after attending a social event in Fintona.

He was found dead on Monday in the Tattyreagh Road area, around two miles from a social event he had been attending on Saturday night.

Earlier this week the PSNI said police have decided to make a notification to the Police Ombudsman due to family concerns.

Police have said that senior officers have offered to meet the family.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan (PA)

Speaking at a meeting of the Northern Ireland Policing Board on Thursday, Assistant Chief Constable Mark McEwan said while there was a tremendous effort by police, they are always learning.

In his opening statement to the Policing Board, Chief Constable Simon Byrne described Mr McCallan’s death as “tragic”, and extended his condolences to his family and friends.

“There has been a lot of public interest in what has gone in the lead up to Matthew’s death,” he said.

“It’s now engaged with the coroner in an inquest, and we made a voluntary self-notification to the ombudsman so we’ll probably be somewhat limited in what we can now say… but to reassure you there is contact with his family and family liaison arrangements in place as we now begin the investigation into his tragic death.”

West Tyrone Sinn Féin MLA Linda Dillon pressed the chief constable on the McCallan family’s concern and call for answers.

Mr Byrne responded: “This is such a heartbreaking case, many of us in the room are parents and you can only imagine the different levels of emotion that are coming in tidal waves at the moment trying to make sense of it.”

He said the process has been started to find out of any “fast time lessons” can be learned that don’t prejudice the coroner or the ombudsman’s work.

“We are committed to dialogue with Matthew’s family because some of these processes engaged do take time sadly, and people want the answers more quickly than sometimes the processes allow,” he added.

Mr McEwan, the senior officer overseeing response to Matthew’s death, said he has been looking at the police response, describing a “considerable amount of police actions undertaken at the time”, and a “tremendous effort”.

West Tyrone Sinn Fein MLA Linda Dillon (PA)

“I understand the hunger both by the family and the community for answers around some of the questions that they have raised,” he said.

“We are already taking out the learning of this, and we’re reaching out to some of the community groups who want to engage and have questions as well as the family.

“There has been a tremendous effort from the moment that the report came in but there will always be learning and we are starting to take that learning straightaway and reaching out to those concerned and particularly the family.”

Speaking after the meeting, Ms Dillon said it is vital that the PSNI communicate with the family.

“It is vital that the family of Matthew McCallan get the answers to questions they have about the search operation,” she said.

“It is essential there is good communication between the PSNI and Matthew’s family. And if there is any learning from the tragic events of this week that it is taken forward so no other family is in this position again.

“A notification has been made by the PSNI to the Police Ombudsman’s Office about the case.

“However, today at the Policing Board I called for a review of procedures so that Matthew’s family are able to get the answers they need as soon as possible.

“And importantly for Matthew’s mummy and daddy that if there is a need to improve processes and protocols this can be done now.”

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