The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said it will investigate “whether there were any missed opportunities” by Lincolnshire Police officers before the deaths of the toddler and his father Kenneth Battersby, 60, at their home in Skegness, Lincolnshire.
Mr Battersby is believed to have died of a heart attack shortly after the pair were last seen alive on Boxing Day, leaving Bronson in the dark with no food or water.
The two-year-old was found dead next to his father’s body two weeks later, with preliminary tests reportedly finding that Bronson, who was under children’s services care, had died of dehydration and starvation.
Lincolnshire County Council told The Independent that social services spoke with Battersby on 27 December to organise a visit to the home on 2 January. After receiving no response that day, the council said the social worker contacted police and made an unannounced visit two days later, after which they again contacted police.
However, it was another five days before the father and son’s bodies were found on 9 January, after a social worker was forced to gain access from the landlord to enter the property themselves.
Lincolnshire Police said on Wednesday that it had referred itself to the IOPC over the incident. The watchdog has now confirmed on Thursday that it is launching an independent investigation “to consider the police response”.
Derrick Campbell, regional director for the IOPC, said: “The harrowing circumstances in which Kenneth and Bronson Battersby died are truly shocking. Our sympathies go out to everyone affected by their sad deaths.
“It is appropriate we carry out an independent investigation to consider the police response to any prior welfare concerns that were raised. We will be examining whether there were any missed opportunities by police to check on Mr Battersby and Bronson sooner.
“We will be in contact with Bronson’s mother and Mr Battersby’s family in due course to explain our role and how our investigation will progress.”
Lincolnshire Police also said the exact actions of all organisations involved will be analysed in a forthcoming review and council said it has launched a “rapid review” of the case.
Inquests into the deaths of Mr Battersby and Bronson have not yet been opened, Lincolnshire Coroner’s Court said on Thursday morning.
Matt Warman, Conservative MP for Boston and Skegness, said the news of Bronson’s death has “saddened” many people, particularly in the seaside town where they lived, a place that has “immense community spirit”.
Authorities will now be wondering “what could have been done differently”, he said, as he urged those involved to conclude their investigations into Bronson’s death “as rapidly as possible”.
Bronson’s mother, Sarah Piesse, 43, who did not live with him, told The Sun she was “haunted” by the vision of her little boy desperately searching for food or water after his father died.
She said: “Kenny moved all the snacks higher up so he couldn’t get to them without asking. Now all I can think of in my head is him, starving, reaching up and trying to get them. I can’t bear it.”
The council confirmed the social worker who tried to visit Mr Battersby and Bronson has not been suspended, but has taken time off following their “traumatic experience”.
Heather Sandy, executive director for children’s services at Lincolnshire County Council, told The Independent: “This was a tragic incident, and we are supporting the family at this difficult time.
“We are currently carrying out a review of the case alongside partner agencies to better understand the circumstances, and we await the results of the coroner’s investigations as well.
“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of those involved.”