Whittlesey: Sanctions For Cambridgeshire Police Call Handlers

19 November 2013, 13:59 | Updated: 19 November 2013, 14:34

Three Cambridgeshire Police call handlers have been given disciplinary action or extra training, after an investigation into contact with a Whittlesey man before he died.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigated the case of 74 year old James Marriott.

Paramedics found Mr Marriott at his home on Horsegate Lane, Whittlesey at 6.06pm on 9 February this year.

A post mortem examination concluded that he died of a heart attack.

Earlier that day, Mr Marriott, described as a vulnerable adult with schizophrenia who was known to police, had made three non-emergency calls to the Cambridgeshire Police Police Service Centre between 12.09 and 12.29pm.

In each of the calls he stated that he had banged his head and could not get up from the floor. 

However, The IPCC says that no action was taken in response to his calls. 

The IPCC investigation examined the actions taken, and decisions made, by police call handling staff involved with Mr Marriott during the three calls.

The investigation found no evidence that police staff had committed criminal offences. 

However, the watchdog recommended that three members of police staff should be subject to disciplinary action, or performance measures.

Cambridgeshire Police say this action has now been taken, with one call handler given a final written warning.

IPCC Commissioner Sarah Green said: "The IPCC investigation found that three call handlers failed to exercise an appropriate level of care in response to Mr Marriott’s calls.

They were aware from previous contact that he was a vulnerable adult but failed to identify and respond to his genuine need for help.

The post mortem and pathologist report did not find that that delay in the police response caused or contributed to the death. 

But there were clear failings in the way the three call handlers dealt with Mr Marriott and the force has rightly apologised to Mr Marriott’s daughter for the failures in relation to her father. 

The IPCC also recommended that the force produce a call handling policy to cover all procedures in the Police Service Centre, and consider providing callers with an indication they have been placed on hold if the call is being transferred for any amount of time. 

These recommendations have been accepted in full and the force is providing additional training and awareness for all call handling staff. 

The force will also monitor staff for understanding and compliance with the guidance to hopefully prevent any future failures of this kind.”

Cambridgeshire Police Say Lessons Will Be Learned

Head of contact management for the force, Detective Superintendent Chris Mead said: "This was a tragic incident and I have given my condolences in person to Mr Marriott's family. 

There were clear failings in the way the calls from Mr Marriott were handled and we have worked alongside the IPCC to ensure a thorough investigation was carried out and that lessons are learned. 

We have implemented all the IPCC?s recommendations and are committed to ensuring this doesn't happen again in future."