Police 'truly sorry' after shortcomings in investigation into death of Luke Hobson
- Credit: Hobson family
The way police investigate sudden deaths of children is set to change, after an independent review "exposed failings" in the Herts force's inquiry into the accidental death of 14-year-old Luke Hobson.
Concerns raised by the coroner and Luke’s family - following Luke's inquest in October last year - prompted an in-depth probe into how the inquiry into his death was managed and supervised.
As a result of the enquiry, a senior investigating detective inspector will now oversee all investigations relating to the death of a child, and any reports prepared for the coroner will be reviewed by a senior officer prior to submission.
Luke was warming up at Blueharts Hockey Club in Lucas Lane, on March 28, 2019, when he was struck on the head with a hockey stick being swung by another boy.
He sustained serious injuries, going into cardiac arrest, and was airlifted to hospital for specialist treatment. But following a medical assessment, Luke’s brain injuries were shown to be irrecoverable and attempts to resuscitate him were stopped.
Following Luke’s inquest last October, Hertfordshire senior coroner, Geoffrey Sullivan, wrote to chief constable Charlie Hall, identifying a number of critical shortcomings in the investigation that needed to be addressed.
This included failure to gather CCTV from the club itself, no check of health and safety policies at the club and a lack of understanding around national best practice with regards to basic hockey safety.
Ch Con Hall said: “The evidence we presented to the inquest court was substandard and I am grateful that our shortcomings have been flagged as it gives us a chance to do things better in the future.
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"It’s clear to me that we could and should have done a much more thorough job in investigating every aspect of the incident, not only for Luke’s sake but also for his heartbroken family too.
"I am truly sorry for what has happened and we are changing the way we investigate the sudden deaths of young people with immediate effect.”
He added: “I cannot begin to comprehend the impact of losing a child and the review exposed not only failings in the way the investigation was managed and supervised, it also highlighted that Luke’s family did not get the professional support they should have had which is just not acceptable.
“Furthermore, we perpetuated our mistakes by publishing a statement at conclusion of Luke’s inquest that knowing what we do now, brushed over our shortcomings and no doubt would have caused his family huge distress.
"This is the last thing we would ever have wanted to do and we are very sorry.
“From now on, all investigations relating to the death of a child should have a senior investigating officer of the rank of detective inspector and any reports prepared for the coroner in relation to the death of a child should be reviewed by a senior officer prior to submission.
"There will also be measures put in place to ensure bereaved families get the updates and support they deserve. I hope Luke’s family and the coroner see our response as a sign of how seriously we have treated their concerns.”
Following the inquest, Herts police issued a statement claiming that "it was determined that no criminal offences had taken place and the case was treated as accidental", at which point police involvement concluded.
Luke's parents, Helen Moss and Peter Hobson, told the Comet following the review: “We are satisfied that Herts police have conducted a thorough review of their investigation into Luke’s death and are committed to fully implementing all the lessons learnt and recommendations made.
"We are also pleased that they have acknowledged the insensitivity of their comments to the media at the end of the inquest.
"We hope this review means that any other family who suffers the death of their child will be property supported and that they won’t have to go through the additional distress caused by an inadequate investigation.”