A report by the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) has found that a Police Scotland controller failed to pass accurate and relevant information to officers following a 999 report of a disturbance at a flat in Edinburgh, where a 51-year-old man was later found dead.
The report published today, Thursday 13 December 2018, found the controller at Bilston Glen Area Control Room (ACR) was dismissive of the man who made the 999 call. She felt he had previously abused the emergency system to report "trivial" matters, many of which she considered were not matters for the police.
The man called 999 late on the evening of 24 March 2018 to report that he could hear banging, shouting and raised voices coming from a nearby flat. He added that on a previous occasion there had been a fight inside the flat which had resulted in a female being attacked.
When the ACR controller sent officers to deal with the disturbance she wrongly told them the incident was in the street and possibly involved a woman being attacked. When they arrived, they carried out a general search of the area and found no disturbance. As a result, the officers did not go to either the flat, where the 51-year-old man’s body was found, or speak to the man who had made the 999 call. They subsequently updated the ACR that no disturbance was taking place in the street.
The man’s body was later found in the flat the following day (25 March 2018). A post-mortem examination found the man died from a combination of drugs in his system.
The incident was referred to the PIRC by Police Scotland for investigation on 28 March 2018. The investigation focused on how Police Scotland dealt with the 999 call and whether the subsequent police actions may have contributed towards the man’s death.
The PIRC report found that had the ACR controller taken the 999 call more seriously she should have sent the officers to the disturbance in the flat rather than the street. This would have allowed officers to establish the wellbeing of the man, later found dead.
It is recommended that the ACR controller should be reminded to deal with all calls professionally and to accurately pass on relevant information to officers sent to incidents. Officers attending calls, where the name and details of the person making the report is available, should speak to the person, where appropriate, to clarify the information provided and ensure they carry out an effective investigation, unless the person states they do not wish to be contacted.
You can read the full findings of the PIRC report here.