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IPCC finds ‘flawed decision making and lack of diligence’ in GMP handling of welfare concerns

February 18, 2013, 1:05 pm

An Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation has found flawed decision making and a lack of diligence by Greater Manchester Police officers in relation to the handling of a call expressing welfare concerns about a woman who was subsequently found dead.
Georgina Beevers, 37, was found dead at her home in Bredbury, Stockport, on 30 January, 2012. An inquest into her death concluded on Friday, 15 February, with a verdict of death by misadventure.
The IPCC conducted an independent investigation into how Greater Manchester Police had responded to a call from Ms Beevers’ mother the previous evening.
In the 999 call at 6.44pm, Ms Beevers’ mother had expressed concern about her daughter. She advised that Ms Beevers was at the ‘end of her tether’ in relation to the behaviour of one of her children and her partner had been ‘battling with her to stop her taking an overdose’.
The IPCC investigation found the call handler had dealt with the call well and appreciated that Ms Beevers’ mother sounded desperate. The call handler began inputting the information on to a log and graded the incident as Grade 1 requiring an emergency attendance.
While still inputting the information the call handler transferred the log to a radio operator so that the call could be allocated to a police patrol. The log had been entitled ‘problem with child’ as this was the initial information. The information about the suicide risk came later in the call and the call handler was unable to change the title of the log.
While the call handler was still inputting information the radio operator made a request at 6.46pm to a supervisor that the call be regraded to a Grade 2, requiring attendance within an hour.
At 6.49pm the call was regraded to Grade 2.
However, due to an ongoing police response to an armed robbery and a missing person incident, there were no officers available to respond to the call.
At 9.25pm a radio operator allocated the call to a police constable. He advised the police constable, who he knew was in the police station, to come to read the log which was 12 pages long. The officer did this and read 11 of the 12 pages in a two-minute period.
However, the officer stated he believed he was dealing with an issue about a child and the family’s ability to deal with naughty behaviour and claimed he had not seen the notes about a suicide risk. The officer went to Ms Beevers’ home at about 10.20pm accompanied by another officer and found the house in darkness. He knocked on the front door and left when he did not get a response. He advised the control room that someone should visit again in the morning.
An officer reattended at 8.17am and was allowed into the house by Ms Beevers’ four-year-old son. Ms Beevers was found dead on the sofa in the living room.
The IPCC’s investigation concluded the call should not have been downgraded and the officer who initially went to Ms Beevers’ house had failed to read the log properly, failed to understand the nature of the incident and failed to act diligently.
The radio operator who requested the call be downgraded has received management action while the investigation found the police officer who read the log and went to the house had a case to answer for misconduct.
The call was actually downgraded by a supervisor in the control room. However, neither supervisor accepted responsibility and the Greater Manchester Police IT systems could not prove which one had done it. Therefore the IPCC could not conclude which supervisor was responsible.
IPCC Commissioner Ms Naseem Malik said: “This was a terribly tragic incident and my deepest condolences go out to Ms Beevers’ family. Ms Beevers was vulnerable and in a distressed state. Her mother attempted to contact social services and then turned to Greater Manchester Police for help. Despite an excellent, caring response from the initial call handler, the response that followed was inadequate. This was an incident that needed a priority response. It didn’t get one due to flawed decision making and a lack of diligence. We cannot know what difference a prompter response would have made. All I can hope is that those involved will learn lessons from this tragedy.”

 
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