Retired archdeacon Mina Smallman condemned officers for a lack of urgency in launching a search after the sisters were reported missing. The bodies of Nicole Smallman, 27, and Bibaa Henry, 47, were discovered in a search organised by family and friends last June – two days after police were alerted to their disappearance.
Two officers are alleged to have posed for selfie pictures by their bodies. The police watchdog has launched an investigation.
Speaking 16 days after the remains of Sarah Everard were found following a huge police search, Mina said: “All women, women of colour, white women, all of us – we are on the same journey. We’re on a journey to say that we all matter. And actually, I can now use this specific situation of my girls and Sarah. They didn’t get the same support – the same outcry.”
She also said she knew exactly what the parents of Sarah were going through, adding: “As a mother I am broke beyond words [for them].”
Nicole and Bibaa were killed after a birthday picnic for Bibaa in Fryent Country Park, Wembley, north London.
A teenager has been charged with two counts of murder.
Mina told Mishal Husain on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday that she thought race partly explained why there was no urgency by police to find her daughters.
She said: “Absolutely, I am convinced. I think the notion that all people matter is absolutely right but it is not true. If your child goes missing, you deserve the people who are paid to do that job to find out what’s happened.”
She added: “It’s hard to maintain that focus of trying, wanting some good to come out of it, something to be learned, something to be different in the future. That’s what gives me purpose. If their lives make a change in the way women are viewed, and black women in particular. Because in the pecking order of things, we are the lowest on the ladder.”
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is investigating the Metropolitan Police’s response to reports of the sisters’ disappearance.
Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick has acknowledged more needs to be done to tackle racism.
Scotland Yard said in a statement: “Our thoughts remain with the families of Bibaa and Nicole following their unspeakable loss.
“As part of a wider investigation into various matters pertaining to this case, the Independent Office for Police Conduct is considering the actions of police when Bibaa and Nicole were reported missing.
“The Metropolitan Police continues to cooperate fully with the IOPC. The families of Bibaa and Nicole are being kept updated by the IOPC.”