An investigation by the independent Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) has found that there was a delay in police going to the flat of a missing 37-year-old man, who was later found dead.
The man’s body was found at his home in Glasgow, at 1805 hours on 10 October 2018, more than 24 hours after care staff first reported him missing to police.
The Commissioner’s report, published today (Thursday), concluded that the Sergeant handling the incident should have sent officers to the man’s flat when he was first reported as missing at 1714 hours on 9 October 2018 rather than waiting for a second missing person report to be raised the following day.
It is not possible to determine whether his death could have been prevented. The Commissioner’s report has recommended further training for police in assessing missing person reports.
Care staff who visited the man twice a day reported him as missing, after they had been unable to make contact with him for 24 hours. The man, who suffered from mental health issues, had previously been reported missing on numerous occasions but on those occasions had always been found by police or returned home voluntarily within six hours.
The Sergeant dealing with the report made initial enquiries and was told by a Constable that a member of the concierge staff at the man’s flat had said that he had seen the man at the property between 0200 and 0400 that morning. The Sergeant discussed the matter with an Inspector and concluded that the man did not fit Police Scotland’s criteria for a missing person. He decided to take no further action.
However, the report found the Inspector did not check that all appropriate steps had been taken to trace the man, including going to the man’s flat, before he agreed to the sergeant’s decision.
Care staff reported the man missing for a second time, at 1420 hours the next day, after they had been unable to gain entry to the man’s home. They highlighted their increasing concern for the man’s wellbeing to the police.
On this occasion the same Sergeant chose to send officers to the man’s home. When they got there at 1600 hours they were unable to establish contact with the man.
The man was found dead inside the house at 1805 hours when entry was forced into the flat.
The incident was referred by Police Scotland to the PIRC on 15 October 2018. The Commissioner’s investigation focussed on the actions of police staff in relation to the missing person reports from care staff.
The Commissioner has recommended that all officers, in particular the Sergeant, receive appropriate training/guidance on assessing missing person reports.
The Commissioner also pointed to the actions of the Inspector, recommending that he is reminded of the importance of checking that all steps have been taken before agreeing with a course of action. Additionally, it is recommended that the Constable who passed on information from concierge staff at the man’s flat should be reminded of the need to note personal details of anyone giving information during enquiries.
A full copy of the report, its findings and recommendations can be found here.