Report finds police errors over woman's death
17 October 2018, 15:24
Police Scotland failed to follow standard procedures in dealing with reports of concern for a woman later found dead in her Glasgow home, an investigation has found.
The 65-year-old, who was listed as a vulnerable person, was found 10 hours after care workers first contacted police to report their concerns for her welfare.
They contacted Police Scotland on February 23 last year around midday to raise concerns for her safety when they could not gain access to her house, but could hear the woman's mobile phone ringing inside.
Two officers were sent to the woman's home but the decision was taken to not force entry after speaking to their supervisor.
Carers returned to the house at 5pm but were still unable to gain entry and so contacted the police again but were told there were no resources available to go to the house.
Over the next four hours, care staff contacted Police Scotland four times asking them to attend.
The woman's daughter also contacted police, telling them she was increasingly concerned for her mother.
Police officers eventually arrived at around 10.40pm and forced their way into the house when the woman's body was found shortly after.
The Police Investigations & Review Commissioner was directed by the Crown Office & Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) to investigate the police prioritisation of the 999 call made by the woman's care workers.
The Pirc report found although police resources became available at 7.45pm, Area Control Room (ACR) staff did not prioritise the call.
Despite repeated requests by care staff for police assistance, due to errors by ACR staff, a decision to send police officers back to the woman's house was not taken until around 9.25pm.
It could not be established if entry had been gained to the woman's house earlier, she would have been found alive.
The report concluded staff in the ACR failed to follow standard procedures and showed a lack of focus in ensuring the 999 call was followed up correctly.
This included a failure to get supervisory approval to defer the 999 call until later.
The PIRC's findings were shared with Police Scotland at an early stage in the investigation to allow them to put in place improved guidance and specific measures to deal with calls about people of concern, where entry to a property is required.
Police Scotland also introduced measures to ensure all available resources within a Division are sent to priority incidents.
Superintendent Norrie Conway, of Professionalism and Assurance, said: "Our thoughts remain with the family involved and we sincerely apologise for the distress caused by our failings.
"The recommendations made in the Pirc report have been implemented and there is also a welcome recognition that the force has made significant improvements in its working processes when dealing with vulnerable people since the tragic incident took place.
"Continually improving the service we deliver to our communities remains a priority.
"We have delivered bespoke training to over 1,000 area control room and service centre staff, and the importance of dealing with risk and vulnerability at first point of contact continues to be highlighted through training, briefings and one to one meetings."