Stur­geon un­der fire over po­lice call cen­tres

● Stur­geon un­der fire from To­ries ● Sui­ci­dal man told to hang up

The Scotsman - - Front Page - By SCOTT MAC­NAB

Two hun­dred emer­gency calls to Po­lice Scot­land have “gone un­heeded” in the past year, Ruth David­son told Ni­cola Stur­geon at Holy­rood yes­ter­day.

The cases in­cluded a sui­ci­dal caller who was told to hang up and a woman who had to phone three times to re­port a dead body in her home.

Ni­cola Stur­geon has come un­der fire over 200 fresh in­ci­dents of 999 po­lice call cen­tre blun­ders over the past year.

A sui­ci­dal man who was told by call han­dlers to hang up and a woman who had to phone three times to re­port a dead body in her prop­erty were among the is­sues high­lighted by Tory leader Ruth David­son at First Min­is­ter’s Ques­tions yes­ter­day.

They fol­low the case which emerged this week of El­iz­a­beth Bowe whose 999 ap­peal for help was not acted on by po­lice con­trol room staff. When they did re­spond, 90 min­utes later, they found her se­ri­ously in­jured. She later died and her brother was this week jailed for life over the death. A re­port by the in­de­pen­dent Po­lice In­ves­ti­ga­tions and Re­view Com­mis­sioner this week found a num­ber of fail­ings in the way po­lice dealt with the 999 call from 50-yearold Mrs Bowe.

Many of the cases were high­lighted in The Scotsman ear­lier this year. They were branded “com­pletely un­ac­cept­able” by Ms Stur­geon, but she in­sisted that im­prove­ments were be­ing made by the new sin­gle po­lice force.

But Ms David­son said: “We were promised that tak­ing con­trol rooms out of lo­cal ar­eas wouldn’t re­sult in a loss of lo­cal knowl­edge. Michael Math­e­son promised that if per­for­mance dropped at any of th­ese cen­tres there would be ‘rapid in­ter­ven­tion’.

“He made that pledge two years ago, and yet we’re still see­ing hun­dreds of in­ci­dents. The SNP gov­ern­ment has lost the con­fi­dence of the po­lice on this mat­ter, and needs to get a grip.”

The Scot­tish Con­ser­va­tive leader high­lighted six spe­cific in­stances – all of which have oc­curred in the last year. Oth­ers in­cluded a house­holder who called to re­port that his door was be­ing kicked in, but of­fi­cers were never dis­patched to in­ves­ti­gate. Of­fi­cers were also sent to the wrong ad­dress while a woman was re­ceiv­ing threats from an ex­part­ner, while po­lice were sent to the wrong town to help a man be­ing threat­ened with a knife.

The First Min­is­ter said: “Ev­ery sin­gle one of the in­ci­dents that has been cited to­day by Ruth David­son is se­ri­ous and un­ac­cept­able. I don’t want any­one to hear what I say to­day as de­tract­ing from the se­ri­ous­ness and un­ac­cept­abil­ity of th­ese in­ci­dents.

“I do think it’s im­por­tant to put the sit­u­a­tion into con­text. Ruth David­son cites 200 in­ci­dents, as I say com­pletely un­ac­cept­able. But Po­lice Scot­land han­dle 2.6 mil­lion calls ev­ery year.”

Ms Stur­geon added that “lessons will be learned”.

0 Po­lice con­trol cen­tres han­dle mil­lions of calls a year but Ni­cola Stur­geon said a fig­ure of more than 200 ‘blun­ders’ was not ac­cept­able

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