POLICE have decided not to refer themselves to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) for allowing a dangerous sex offender to go on the run in West Somerset.

Officers also want to question 70-year-old Richard Scatchard about a murder inquiry which was launched after a woman was found dead in his Minehead flat.

Scatchard had been released early from prison after being given a life sentence for offences which included drugging women.

Police were called to his home in Blenheim Road at about 4 am on Sunday, October 15, where 61-year-old Kelly Faiers was found dead.

But officers did not find the circumstances suspicious enough to take Scatchard into custody and after speaking to him they left.

A new photograph of wanted man Richard Scatchard, showing him in Swain Street, Watchet.
Richard Scatchard in Swain Street, Watchet, the morning after a woman was found dead in his flat. (Avon and Somerset Police)

When police returned to question him on the Monday afternoon they found he had disappeared, and despite public appeals and extensive publicity of the case, there has been no sign of him since.

Now, Avon and Somerset Constabulary has confirmed it does not intend to refer itself to the IOPC, a watchdog responsible for ensuring public confidence in policing.

A police spokesman said the force’s professional standards board had assessed the case and it was ‘not considered to be of misconduct level and/or requiring an IOPC referral based on the current situation’.

However, the spokesman said the force was continuing to review its response to the incident to see if there were any lessons to be learned.

There was also still no known cause for the death of Ms Faiers, who was from Weston-super-Mare, after a post mortem gave inconclusive results.

Senior investigating officer Det Supt Gary Haskins said further tests had been carried out and police continued to treat her death as ‘suspicious’.

Anybody who sees Scatchard, whom police said was a danger to women in particular, is advised not to approach him but to call 999 immediately and give the reference number 5223251706.

Scatchard speaks with a Scottish accent and has been known to also use the name ‘Richard Dunlop’.

He is white, about 5 ft 11 ins tall, of average build, with short grey hair, and normally clean shaven, although his appearance may have changed since he was last seen in Minehead on October 16.