THE family of an abused mum who killed herself said last night she was failed by the same police force that botched the Nicola Bulley search.
Kiena Dawes, 23, damned Lancashire Police in a suicide note after going missing. Her brother Kynan, 30, said Kiena, of Fleetwood, was “let down”.
Former Home Secretary Priti Patel has demanded an independent inquiry into the force.
The young mum failed by the force that searched for Nicola Bulley left a suicide note which begged: “I hope my life saves another by police services acting faster.”
Tormented Kiena Dawes felt abandoned by Lancashire Police after alleged domestic violence by an ex.
She was reported missing last July after leaving the note on her phone at a friend’s home.
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Officers classed her as “high risk” — the same as tragic Nicola — and began a search around her home town of Fleetwood.
But despite being handed the reg plate of her white BMW they failed to find her in time and five hours later she took her own life after being struck by a train.
Last night her family said they felt she had been repeatedly let down, as the police watchdog said it was investigating the force’s contact with Kiena and its response when she was reported missing.
Her alleged attacker remained on bail last night.
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Kiena’s family told The Sun the search for missing Nicola had left them devastated and said lessons had not been learned.
Brother Kynan, 30, of Lytham St Annes, said: “They let down Kiena in life — and failed her in her last moments.
“She felt the police weren’t doing anything to help her despite countless reports of domestic violence.
“Her attacker was constantly bailed and she ended up with nowhere to turn. She lost hope.
“When we found her note we knew it was a race against time.
“We rang police straightaway.
“We told them the car make and model, the registration plate and where the car had gone from.
“All they had to do was go on the ANPR cameras.
“She was clearly a high-risk missing person but they didn’t prioritise her case.
“They didn’t do anything.
“They just said they were looking for her…but the train found her first.
“They don’t act quick enough. They never do. They weren’t interested.
“That was the longest five hours of my life but poor Nicola Bulley’s family had to wait three weeks. That’s brutal.”
Desperate Kynan launched his own search for Kiena, who wore a police panic alarm around her neck.
He turned up at Blackpool police station and demanded: “You need to find her.”
But later that day two officers arrived at his mum’s Angela’s home to tell her of Kiena’s death.
Builder Kynan added: “As a family member all you want to know is that they’re putting their heart and soul into finding her.
“I don’t think they’ll ever learn. How many lives are going to be lost before they act faster?
“Unless there’s a new law which prioritises missing people and forces police to throw everything at it, this will happen again.
“I have no faith in them whatsoever.”
His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary raised separate concerns about the force in a report released in October.
It read: “Lancashire Constabulary requires improvement at investigating crime.”
Fury is mounting over the force’s actions in searching for mum-of-two Nicola who was reported missing in St Michael’s on Wyre on January 27.
She was immediately classed as high risk given her struggles with alcohol and the menopause.
Her body was found on Sunday less than a mile from where she was last seen.
Last night Lancashire Police said Kiena’s alleged abuser, 29, was arrested on suspicion of assault and coercive and controlling behaviour.
He remains on bail.
They added: “It would be inappropriate to comment on that case while criminal proceedings remain ongoing.
“We referred ourselves to the IOPC in July 2022 in relation to contact we had with Kiena before her death.”
The IOPC said: “Our investigation into prior contact between Lancashire Constabulary and Kiena Dawes, before her death on July 22, continues.
“We are looking at the police response when Miss Dawes was reported missing, as well as reports that she had been the victim of assaults.
“Having obtained and reviewed a number of statements from witnesses, we have informed an officer that they have been served notice for potential gross misconduct.
“This does not necessarily mean misconduct proceedings will follow.”
Farah Nazeer, of Women’s Aid said: “This heartbreaking case shows exactly why domestic abuse cases need to be treated seriously and with urgency.
“Specialist ongoing training from charities like ours is essential for police forces, with domestic abuse affecting an estimated 1.6million women a year, who are experiencing abuse from a current or ex partner.
“Three women are killed every fortnight in the UK alone.
“We know that only one in five women contact the police, and for more to want to seek support women need to know they will be taken seriously, and that they can trust who they are speaking to.
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“Culture change and training need to be priorities.”
- IF you are worried your partner, or that of a friend or family member, is controlling and abusive, visit www.womensaid.org.uk.
- If you are in immediate danger, always dial 999. You can call the 24-hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline free on 0808 2000 247.
- If you or a loved one is struggling with their mental health, speak to your GP or visit NHS.uk or call 111 for support. Samaritans are available 24/7, free, on 116 123. Or visit Mind at mind.org.uk.
6 queries that need answers
BUNGLING Lancashire Police has been criticised for its three-week search for missing mum Nicola Bulley, whose body was finally found on Sunday.
Here are the key questions that need answers.
- Why was the search scaled back in the stretch of water where Nicola was ultimately found?
- Why was the river not re-examined given there was evidence of tidal movements?
- Why did officers reveal personal details of Nicola’s health struggles?
- Did the family consent to those personal details being released?
- Were the reeds where her body was found even searched?
- Why did the force decline outside assistance and did it prolong the family’s agony?