Student policeman's family claim he was bullied at work before suicide

EXCLUSIVE Family of student police officer, 21, who took his own life claim he faced ‘bullying, discrimination and institutional racism’ from colleagues – as they call for watchdog investigation

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The family of a student police officer who died suddenly are calling for an independent investigation from the watchdog after they claimed he faced ‘persistent bullying, discrimination and institutional racism’ from colleagues.

Anugrah Abraham, known as Anu, was a 21-year-old student police officer on a placement with West Yorkshire police as part of his three-year apprenticeship degree at Leeds Trinity University.

He went missing on Friday March 3. He was found the next day and his family were told that he had taken his own life.

His is family are calling on the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) to investigate West Yorkshire police.

They allege that he faced bullying, discrimination and a lack of support, which they say took place during his first on-the-ground placement at Halifax police station.

Anugrah Abraham (pictured), known as Anu, was a 21-year-old student police officer on a placement with West Yorkshire police as part of his three-year apprenticeship degree at Leeds Trinity University. He died by suicide earlier this month. 

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Paying tribute to their ‘gentle giant’ after his funeral yesterday, his devastated family said in a statement: ‘After experiencing stress and anxiety due to bullying and institutional racism during his time in the force, Anu tragically took his own life on 3rd March 2023.

‘We want to make clear that we feel that the harm Anu experienced at the hands of the police, killed him.’

In a series of damning allegations, the family claim that Anu was shaken up after seeing a dead body floating in a river.

When asked by a sergeant to carry out a full body search he vomited before allegedly being told: ‘Just do the search.’

They said he was continually sent out alone to incident of serious harm despite being ‘ill equipped’ to deal with them.

They claim he broke down in tears but was given short shrift by his ‘bullying’ Sergeant.

They allege he was shouted at in front of colleagues on numerous occasions and sent out to difficult jobs on his own, including incidents of domestic abuse.

One family member, who claimed he was spat at, called ‘Abdul’ and faced racist abuse from the public while on the beat, said: ‘There was no awareness or support that there might be different issues that would be relevant to him due to his race.’

They said: ‘Anu was not able to have proper lunch breaks, whatever food he would take to work he would later bring home, sharing that he was being sent from incident to incident and had no time to eat lunch – let alone take a tea or coffee break. As a result, he started losing weight.’

Anu allegedly told his line manager that he was not coping well and did not want to go out in the field alone. The family say he was put on a management plan in response. On the morning of the Friday he disappeared, Anu had breakfast with his parents.

His mother says that the stress and worry of going back to work the next day was clear. He was later reported missing.

As Anu lived in Bury, Greater Manchester police took over his case.

The family say that the way they were treated was ‘appalling’.

When Anu’s car was found near woodlands on the evening of March 3, the family allege police did not search the area and told them that the woodlands were ‘dangerous’ and contained wild animals such as ‘hedgehogs’.

The family say that police refused to send a helicopter out to search for him. His body was found a day later by a dog walker.

The family say they were informed of Anu’s death, but were not allowed to see his body for three days.

They say they were told by police that ‘as it was the weekend, the mortuary was closed to the public’.

But when they visited the mortuary on Monday, they allege they were told by staff they could have viewed the body over the weekend.

His family claim that Anu was ‘the victim of a lack of duty of care’ by West Yorkshire Police which ‘failed across the board to nurture and support a young trainee police officer’.

They asked the IOPC to conduct an independent investigation into West Yorkshire police, but were told the matter would instead be subject to a local investigation conducted by the force’s professional standards department.

A spokesperson for West Yorkshire police said: ‘We take allegations of bullying and discrimination within the workforce very seriously. The force has referred itself to the IOPC, which deemed it appropriate that a local investigation was undertaken.’

DCI Dave Jones, of Greater Manchester police’s professional standards branch, said: ‘This incident was referred to our branch and the IOPC for review who concluded that GMP had not caused or contributed to Anugrah’s death and the force had responded appropriately to the missing person’s report.’

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