Barking police to meet with LGBT community after ‘failure to spot’ link between deaths
The Metropolitan Police plans to meet with the LGBT community in Barking, after referring itself to the police watchdog over the deaths of gay men in the town.
40-year-old Stephen Port, of Barking, east London was arrested last month and charged with the alleged murders of Anthony Walgate, Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth, and Jack Taylor, between June 2014 and September 2015.
The Metropolitan Police referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission following the arrest, over allegations it initially failed to spot a link between the deaths.
The four bodies were found in and around the St Margaret’s Churchyard, Barking – but police had initially insisted the first three three deaths were “not suspicious” and were separate cases.
Following the case, the Barking and Dagenham Borough of the Metropolitan Police is planning to meet with the LGBT community in the area this week to address concerns.
Chief Inspector Martin Kirby, from Barking and Dagenham Borough, said: “Police in Barking and Dagenham have arranged an open public meeting where we can listen to the LGBT community and understand any concerns they may have about their existing relationships with the local police and their confidence in us and the wider partnership.
“The purpose of this meeting is very much about how we take the relationship forward and build on some of the existing work being carried out by our LGBT Liaison Officers, partner agencies and the voluntary sector.
“For this we need the help and advice of some of our key community stakeholders and member of the LGBT community within Barking and Dagenham and those with links to the Borough.”
The force’s public meeting will take place at 7 PM on Thursday, in Ripple Hall, Barking.
Port is set to appear in court in January for a plea hearing, with a tentative trial date set for April.
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