Response to IPCC report on investigation into death of Lee Balkwell
Essex Police has responded to the publication of a report by the
Independent Police Complaints Commission into the death of Lee
Lee Balkwell was found dead at a farm near South Ockendon on
July 18, 2002.
Essex Police received a copy of the IPCC report
in December 2011.
It is clear that there
were failings during the course of the investigation and subsequent
reviews. Deputy Chief Constable Derek Benson has sent a letter of
apology to Lee’s father Les Balkwell and Lee’s partner Lorraine
Mitchinson for the failings.
Les Balkwell made over 130 complaints to the IPCC against Essex
Police, of which 92 were investigated. The IPCC upheld in full 11
of the complaints, partially upheld eight and the remainder were
not upheld. Predominantly they involve officers’ actions and
decision making during the initial investigation in 2002.
Three Essex officers, currently working for the force, will be
subject to a formal debrief with Essex Police’s Deputy Chief
In the last nine years since Lee Balkwell’s death, Essex
Police’s structure and approach to investigating homicide and
unnatural death has changed. The Kent and Essex Serious Crime
Directorate has been formed and the identification, training,
mentoring, accreditation and support of Senior Investigating
Officers in line with national best practise has been adopted.
Meanwhile, the criminal investigation into Lee Balkwell’s death
continues under the leadership of Det Chief Supt Lee Catling of the
Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate. This investigation will
be overseen by Assistant Chief Constable Gary Beautridge, Head of
We would like to take this opportunity to encourage anyone who
still holds information relating to Lee’s death to come forward now
and share that information in confidence by calling the incident
room on 01634 884032 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555