A report has found that Police Scotland failed to follow standard procedures in dealing with reports of concern for a vulnerable 65-year-old woman, who was later found dead in her Glasgow home.
The woman’s body was found at night on 24 February 2017, ten hours after the woman’s care workers first contacted police to report their concerns for her welfare.
The woman, who was listed as a vulnerable person, was last seen alive the previous evening on Thursday 23 February 2017 by two care workers.
They contacted Police Scotland the following day at 1243 hours, when they could not gain access to her house. During the 999 call they reported that they were concerned for her safety as they could not get into the house and could hear the woman’s mobile phone ringing inside.
Two officers who were sent to the woman’s home decided not to force entry at that time after speaking to their supervisor.
They had also spoken to the woman’s daughter who had indicated that the woman occasionally left home without her phone. Carers returned to the house at 1700 hours but were still unable to gain entry.
They contacted the police again but were told that there were no resources available at that time to go to the house.
Care staff contacted Police Scotland on four separate occasions over the next four hours, asking them to attend the house. The woman’s daughter also contacted police telling them she was increasingly concerned for her mother.
Police officers eventually arrived at 2239 hours and forced their way into the house at 2248 hours.
The Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) 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 that although police resources became available at 1945 hours, 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 2124 hours. They eventually forced entry at 2248 hours.
It could not be established that if entry had been gained to the woman’s house earlier, she would have been found alive.
The report concluded that 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 that all available resources within a Division are sent to priority incidents.