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Father of schoolboy Matthew Mackell from Tunbridge Wells feeling 'positive' following meeting with Kent Police officials discussing lessons learned since tragedy


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The father of a 17-year-old boy who took his own life after calling 999 for help says he is 'relieved' Kent Police has begun making changes following the tragedy.

Matthew Mackell, a Year 12 pupil at Skinners' Kent Academy in Tunbridge Wells, died on May 6 last year close to his home in Dunorlan Park.

Matthew was just 17. Picture: Michael Bond
Matthew was just 17. Picture: Michael Bond

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 despatched and he was discovered dead in the early hours of the following morning.

At an inquest in May, a coroner ruled there were 'systemic failings' and 'missed opportunities' in Kent Police’s response to his calls.

Yesterday the schoolboy's father Michael Bond met with Assistant Chief Constable Peter Ayling from Kent Police to see if any lessons had been learned from his son's death.

During the three-hour meeting at Tonbridge Police Station, they discussed the 17 failings identified in reports written about that night and ways in which Matthew's story can be used to prevent future tragedies.

Michael Bond says he is relieved Kent Police has started making changes
Michael Bond says he is relieved Kent Police has started making changes

Mr Bond, 49, said: "It was a very emotional meeting but it was very important for our family.

"We are relieved that Kent Police has brought about some changes relating to training of their staff.

"They wouldn't admit there were mistakes and they never will, but as long as we stop this from happening again.

"We want some training to happen in Matty's name so they can use his story to teach staff about how to deal with things if someone ever calls in distress like he did.

"They are also going to try and implement this across all 43 forces in England and Wales, not just Kent and that would be absolutely tremendous.

Flowers and messages were left at Dunorlan Park in memory of Matthew
Flowers and messages were left at Dunorlan Park in memory of Matthew

"I came away feeling positive, I just hope he does what he says he can do."

Assistant Chief Constable Peter Ayling said: "On Wednesday I spoke with Mr Bond at Tonbridge police station.

"As this was a private meeting, it would not be appropriate to comment on those discussions. I would emphasise that our thoughts are with the family and friends who continue to miss Matthew dearly.

"Kent Police referred this matter to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) following Matthew’s death and they found no evidence of misconduct by either police officers or staff.

"As was confirmed by the coroner, there were lessons for us to learn and Kent Police was issued with a section 28 recommendation which set out areas for improvement.

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

"We will strive to respond as speedily as possible to calls for assistance and I am confident our dedicated officers and police staff, will work tirelessly in their aim to protect members of the public from harm."

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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