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Family of schoolboy Matthew Mackell who died in Dunorlan Park in Tunbridge Wells to meet Kent Police officials to discuss lessons learned since tragedy


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The father of a 17-year-old boy who took his own life after calling police for help will tomorrow meet officials at Kent Police to ask if any lessons have been learned since the tragedy.

Matthew Mackell, a Year 12 student from Skinners' Kent Academy, died in Dunorlan Park, in Tunbridge Wells on May 6 last year.

Matthew Mackell took his own life aged 17
Matthew Mackell took his own life aged 17

On the night, he called police in distress saying: "Can you send someone to pick me up, I’m about to kill myself."

No patrols were sent and he was discovered dead in the early hours of the following morning.

In May, an inquest into Matthew’s death found there had been 'systemic failings' in Kent Police’s response to his calls.

Coroner Alan Blunsdon ruled the force missed an opportunity to deploy a mapping system that could have located the teenager, who loved maths and had aspirations to become an accountant.

Now, more than a year later, Matthew’s father Michael Bond will meet with the Assistant Chief Constable of Kent Police to understand how, and if, lessons have been learned.

Mr Bond with Matthew as a baby
Mr Bond with Matthew as a baby

Mr Bond says he hopes Kent Police will prove it has taken real and meaningful steps to protect the lives of young people at risk of suicide.

He added: "The first thing I want to talk about are the mistakes. Then I want to go through the night and what happened with Matthew.

"I want them to admit there were mistakes, not missed opportunities as they have been worded but the most important thing for me and my family is an apology.

"I want to make sure everyone who reads the reports about that night gets an accurate view of the events and I want to see the changes implemented across all police forces, not just Kent Police, so it doesn't get missed again.

"They've had a year to get things sorted."

Floral tributes were left in Dunorlan Park
Floral tributes were left in Dunorlan Park

They will meet tomorrow at Tonbridge Police Station.

Mr Bond is also hoping to arrange a walk-through visit of the control room in Maidstone where Matthew's calls were handled for the same reasons.

The inquest revealed staff in the control room who spoke to Matthew that night had no knowledge of an enhanced mapping system that could have provided a more accurate location to his whereabouts.

This new system has now been made default.

All members of police staff who gave evidence at the inquest said they did not remember receiving any guidance on how to deal with calls relating to the risk of suicide.

Acting Deputy Chief Constable, Pete Ayling, previously said: "Our thoughts very much remain with Matthew Mackell’s loved ones and friends and we continue to offer our deepest condolences to everyone affected by his tragic death.

"Our officers and staff do their utmost to keep people safe, adhere to the highest possible professional standards and put the safety and welfare of members of the public first.

"These areas of learning have now been addressed, to enhance clarity within force policies and guidance around the response to incidents where there is a threat to life.

"Specifically, this includes ongoing learning relating to updates and advances of mapping software, which will assist with calls where no exact location is available."

For confidential support on an emotional issue, call Samaritans on 116 123 at any time or click here to visit the website.

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Read more: All the latest news from Tunbridge Wells

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