DORSET Police has apologised to the family of Gaia Pope admitting failings and that they “should have done better”.

Gaia Pope, 19, was found dead in undergrowth on a clifftop near Dancing Ledge, 11 days after she went missing from Swanage.

Following a 12-week inquest, which learnt of failings from Dorset Police in the handling of her disappearance, the force has apologised.

READ MORE: Gaia Pope: What the jury concluded about her death

Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Farrell said: "Gaia was only 19 years old and had her whole life ahead of her when she tragically died. My thoughts, and those of everyone at Dorset Police, remain with her family and friends.

"Over the last four and a half years, we have been determined to examine our response when Gaia and her family asked for help. We have sought to identify and deliver the improvements that needed to be made. This work has been overseen by the most senior officers in our force.

"Following a lengthy inquest, in which evidence was heard from a range of public agencies and more than 30 officers and staff from Dorset Police, the jury have delivered their conclusions.

"The record of inquest reflects that there were failings on the part of Dorset Police in our response to Gaia’s disappearance, but that those failings did not cause or contribute to her death. We make a commitment today that we will act swiftly on any learning that has not already been part of our improvement programme.

"We recognise that as a force our immediate response to the missing person enquiry should have been better managed. This includes how we identified Gaia’s vulnerabilities, the missing risk she was graded at, how we oversaw coordination of searches and the running of an effective command structure.

"Gaia and her family did not receive the service they should have had after her disappearance. We should have done much better especially during those first 48 hours and for this we are truly sorry.

"Since Gaia’s death we have worked hard to ensure we have the right framework in place so we can respond promptly and effectively when someone is reported missing. Following an independent investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct we have delivered many changes to our ways of working and introduced dedicated missing persons teams to ensure our response meets national best practice and provides the right service for our communities.

"While there has been much learning for Dorset Police, we would still wish to recognise that a significant number of our officers, staff, volunteers and partners were involved in the search for Gaia and in the time she was missing, had continually hoped and worked for a very different outcome.

"We welcome the Prevention of Future Deaths report from the Coroner. It will help us to ensure we have understood and responded to every single piece of learning in this case. We will now take the proper time to reflect on and respond to the report.

"This inquest has been an important process for Gaia and her loved ones and I want to finish by sending our most sincere and heartfelt condolences to her family and friends."