Police took more than five hours to arrive at the home of a seriously ill 72-year-old man following a call of concern about his welfare, a report by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) has found.

An investigation report published today (12 July 2016) found that although officers were initially dispatched within 35 minutes on 19 April 2016, they were diverted to another urgent incident.

The Commissioner concluded that the considerable delay in police arriving to assist the elderly man was caused by a lack of ownership of the initial call within Police Scotland.

The incident happened when an Edinburgh City Council Neighbourhood Support Officer phoned Police Scotland to report that she had concerns for the man who was the subject of regular welfare visits but had not been seen for a few days. There had also been no reply at his home address.

The PIRC report also found that whilst the initial call to police was correctly prioritised as a Grade 2 incident, which requires a response within 15 minutes, officers were not dispatched for 35 minutes.

On the way to the call, those officers were diverted to another incident and it was not until some time later that it was realised that no one had attended and other officers were then dispatched.

When those officers arrived at the property later in the day, they found the man was seriously ill and he was taken to hospital for treatment. His condition has since improved and he is now expected to make a full recovery.

The Commissioner, Kate Frame, commented:

"Fortunately in this case, the medical opinion suggests that the delay in the police attending is unlikely to have had a significant impact on the seriousness of the man's illness.

"Police Scotland has since carried out a review of the circumstances and put new safeguards in place for dealing with this type of incident, which requires supervisors to more closely monitor the actions of staff."

Notes to editors

In terms of the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 and the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (Investigations Procedure, Serious Incidents and Specified Weapons) Regulations 2013, all serious incidents involving police, must be referred to the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) for independent investigation.

View the Commissioner's report here