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Minister must act on emergency call handling failures

10 Novembre 2017

Ruth Davidson said the incidents included cases where officers were sent to the wrong town.

The list of errors include a suicidal caller who was told to "just hang up" by the operator and officers repeatedly failing to attend reports of a dead body in a woman's house.

"How many more times will a call for help go unheeded before the situation in our emergency control rooms is sorted out?"

The exchange at first minister's questions came after the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) found a number of failings in the way police dealt with a 999 call from a domestic abuse victim.

Her brother Charles Gordon, 52, was jailed for life in July at the High Court in Glasgow after being found guilty of strangling his sister.

He was eventually found safe, but the report acknowledged that the incident could have put "the male and members of the public at risk".

It was only after a third call was received that police attended the scene, where they found a man who had apparently died of a drug overdose.

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A further incident involved a man who dialled 999 to report that a male neighbour was "kicking at his door and waving a knife through the letter box". "They didn't get any help because, firstly, the wrong address was written down and, secondly, police officers weren't even dispatched".

Ms Davidson said the dossier of incidents proved that Ms Bowe's case was "not isolated" and that problems with Police Scotland's call handling procedures had not been fixed.

In all, more than 200 emergency calls were not properly responded to in the a year ago alone, Ms Davidson said.

She continued: "This was a tragic and unacceptable case. but it is simply not the case to say that significant improvements are not being made and have not been made to call handling and it's important that lessons from cases like this continue to be learned".

But she also stressed that Police Scotland handled around 2.6 million calls a year, so 200 serious incidents should be seen in "context".

Elizabeth Bowe, 50, rang the police on September 17 past year, but a member of staff at the Bilston Glen area control centre downgraded the status of her call and left a voice message saying the 999 service was "for emergencies only".

He added: "The Notable Incident process has been created to allow staff to capture incidents to subsequently allow for training, a change in process or improvement in our service to the public".

Minister must act on emergency call handling failures