THE heartbroken family of Lauren Lelonek have welcomed the acknowledgement of failures within the school and police that led to her tragic death.

Lauren took her own life in June 2016, after a prolonged campaign of bullying at the hands of a group of girls she had previously called friends.

Despite the coroner's findings that opportunities had been missed by those who should have been caring for Lauren, her family says the three-and-a-half-year wait for the truth has caused 'huge distress'.

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The inquest found that lessons had been learned, and the family now hopes they will be put into practice.

In a statement, the Lelonek family said: "We welcome that, at last, over three years since Lauren’s death, both the school and Cheshire Police recognise that there were failures to protect Lauren from bullying and harassment that she suffered over a period of many months.

We were pleased to hear from Ms Green, the then-principal of University of Chester Academy Northwich, who acknowledged that although the school completed a risk assessment with some measures to protect Lauren it came five months too late.

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"It was accepted that it had been wrong to punish and temporarily exclude Lauren from school when she had been a victim of severe and prolonged harassment.

"Time and again, the school were aware of incidents of bullying and threats of violence and failed to take effective action.

"It has also been acknowledged by Cheshire Police that it failed altogether to conduct a criminal investigation into the ongoing harassment of Lauren, which had been brought to the attention of the police on numerous occasions.

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"Cheshire Police knew all it needed to know, when Lauren was alive, to investigate the ongoing harassment. It should not have taken Lauren’s death for the harassment to have been taken seriously.

"We welcome that Chief Superintendent Worth appears to be anxious to learn lessons from Lauren’s death.

"It should not have taken three years and an inquest for these failings to be accepted.

"After Lauren’s death the University of Chester Academy Trust provided an internal review which claimed that Lauren had not been bullied and that the school had complied with its policies.

"That caused us huge distress as we knew it to be completely and utterly wrong. We are glad that this has, finally, been acknowledged.

"Losing Lauren has destroyed us. We will never be the same again.

"Our hearts are truly broken. We miss her so much."

Yvonne Kestler, solicitor from law firm Leigh Day who is representing the family, said: “It has taken three years for those involved to accept that things should and could have been done differently.

"The family have finally obtained the recognition that they have been fighting for.

"They hope that the lessons they say have been learnt will be put into practice so that no other family has to go through what they have had to.”