Police under escalating pressure over death of tragic student Scott
Anational charity has called for an inquiry into the death of student Scott Calder as MSPS question Police Scotland about the night he died.
The 23-year-old’s body was found on a beach in East Lothian in October, hours after officers allowed him to wander off alone. He had been picked up by police after concerned members of the public warned he was vulnerable and at risk after seeing him staggering in the middle of a pitch-black road after a beer festival.
Witnesses who tried to help him said the student, who had been drinking, was struggling to walk or talk. He was wearing only a Lederhosen fancy dress outfit at the Oktoberfest event held at stately home Gosford House.
Originally, police told his parents, who say they have been given little information about the night their son died, that Scott had been dropped off at a bus stop in the centre of Port Seton, three miles away, around 11.20pm, but later said he had been left alone on the outskirts of town.
His body was found on a beach at Longniddry the next morning. Deborah Coles, director of Inquest, a charity scrutinising deaths where officers or officials have been involved, said Scott’s death must be properly explained. She said: “Police officers have a duty of care to all of us, particularly when we are in a vulnerable state.
“It is in the interest of the family and the public there is a wide-ranging investigation into this death.” Meanwhile, Liam Mcarthur MSP, the Scottish Lib Dems justice spokesman, has written to police chief constable Iain Livingstone to ask for an explanation of the officers’ actions and details of force policy and training.
After a preliminary review, Police Investigations and Review Commissioner Kate Frame decided no further investigation was needed and officers acted “appropriately”. However, Mr Mcarthur has raised concerns and, in his email to Mr Livingston, wrote: “I appreciate that this case is still the subject of investigations. “There is however public concern about what it may reveal more broadly about the policies and thresholds Police Scotland applies when dealing with people who are intoxicated, or incapable of protecting their own safety.” Mr Mcarthur also suggested Police Scotland consider a review of its approach.
He added: “Reports also indicate Scott did not have sufficient clothing for the weather and that no phone or wallet was present when he was found the following morning.
“In light of this, how is an individual’s preparedness taken into account when officers are making decisions about how best to intervene and assist a person about whom there may be welfare concerns?”
Police Scotland said: “A full and thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding Scott Calder’s death was carried out by Police Scotland and a report submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.
“Once cause of death was established, Scott’s family were fully updated and our sympathies remain with them.
“As part of this investigation we referred the matter to PIRC, who concluded that officers acted appropriately in their engagement with Scott prior to his death.”
‘ A full probe is in the interest of the family and the public
Deborah Coles, of inquest, and our initial reports