Family ‘failed’ by police after claims missing mum’s case opened 48 years late

A woman whose mother went missing in 1973 said the police have “failed” her family after only opening a missing person’s case yesterday.

L’amore Burrowes, 59, who grew up in South London and now lives in Birmingham, has never stopped searching for her mother who went missing when she was only nine years old.

Ms Burrowes said: “My mum’s disappearance has been a massive missed opportunity. It was not taken seriously or seen as a priority or concern.

“There was no consideration at all from the police and social services and I don’t understand why.”

Judith Burrowes went missing at 27 years old, leaving behind five children including Ms Bryan. She would now be 79 years old.

Mrs Burrowes before she went missing, with her husband who has since passed away (Picture: Burrowes)

Ms Burrowes said she last saw her mother at Beckenham Hill station. At the time the family was living in Dunfield Gardens, Bellingham.

She said: “Why would mum wait to have five children and then never be seen again, it doesn’t make sense.

“This is someone who exists – I just want to know where she is and if she is alive.  It’s about her safety and well-being – she would be 80 next year.

“I have approached the police on several occasions – every time I call saying the same thing but they take no notice.

“Then today I got a reference number for my missing person case?”

Ms Burrowes now lives in Birmingham, but has not given up looking for her mother (Picture: Ms Burrowes)

After Mrs Burrowes went missing, the children were taken into separate care homes “one by one”.

Ms Burrowes said: “By 1975 I had lost contact with my siblings and I experienced child abuse in care.”

Ms Burrowes said she was a victim of the Melting Pot Foundation in Lambeth. 

In 2020, an Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse that took place in Lambeth’s children’s homes between 1930 and the early 1990s, heard that children in the Melting Pot’s children’s homes had been sexually abused. 

The Melting Pot Foundation was run from houses on streets that fan off Railton Road in Brixton, the majority of children in these homes were black.

Ms Burrowes and her four siblings before they were separated after her mothers disappearance (Picture: Ms Burrowes)

Ms Burrowes said: “At the time I didn’t know if I could do anything about it.

“I went through so much tragedy but just kept going. Social services and police didn’t want to understand me as a young girl – I felt like I was a burden, that’s the only way I can explain it.

“I’m tired of being ignored – I’m still recovering from severe trauma and trying to piece my life together – none of it is right.

“I want answers – I want to know why the social services didn’t feel the need to do something about me and my mum.”

Ms Burrowes said she struggled to remember her mother before she left, but has a picture of her in her kitchen which she looks at every day.

She said: “She’s beautiful in these pictures. I look at them and she seems clean and tidy and organised from the way she dressed.

“I know she kept all our birth certificates in albums with how much each of my siblings weighed.”

During lockdown, Ms Bryan’s research found that her mother was one of 13 children born in Dorset. And spent some of her upbringing being cared for by the Salvation Army.

Ms Bryan said: “I’m a grandmother now, this has affected my whole life. I just don’t want her to be forgotten.”

A spokesman from the Met said: “On November 29, we received a missing person report relating to a woman who was last seen in 1976. Officers are assessing the information to decide what further enquiries can be carried out.”

Picture: Judith Burrowes went missing when she was 27, in 1973 (Picture: Ms Burrowes)

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