Inquest jury identifies serious and inexcusable failures by Essex Police, EPUT and Essex County Council to prevent the killing of 12 year old Harley Watson


Harley Watson was killed on 2 December 2019 when Terence Glover, a man suffering from schizophrenia who had been identified by State agencies as a very serious risk of attacking children with his car, drove into a group of 10 children and a teacher outside Debden Park High School.

In the months before the fatal attack, Glover made persistent malicious phone calls to Essex Police threatening to run over schoolchildren. A neighbour had reported to police that Glover had been seen driving in and out of the school and watching children leaving at the end of the school day. Numerous witnesses accepted that Glover appeared to be “scoping out” the school. Essex Police failed to get Glover off the road despite their concerns.

Just two months before the attack, Glover was arrested and was identified by a psychiatric nurse as a risk to children. A Mental Health Act (MHA) assessment was conducted but was blighted by deficiencies. The witnesses who conducted the assessment accepted that it was fundamentally flawed. Following the assessment, Glover was not detained under the MHA. The doctors who conducted the assessment accepted that he should have been and that the failure to detain him was a significant missed opportunity that contributed to Harley’s death.

After the MHA assessment, Glover was released by Essex Police with no bail conditions, no mental health follow up of any kind was put in place by EPUT or Essex County Council, and Essex Police took no steps to monitor Glover or progress their criminal investigation.

The inquest jury identified numerous operational and systemic failings by Essex Police, EPUT and Essex County Council and concluded that those failings possibly caused or contributed to Harley’s death.

Jesse Nicholls acted for Harley’s parents, instructed by Kayley Giddings of Brunskill Solicitors.

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