POLICE Scotland is today facing severe criticism over its handling of four separate cases involving vulnerable people in Edinburgh. Tragically, three of the cases involved a death.
The failings identified, at least to the layman, are quite stunning. Failing to check the home of a missing person for six days is impossible to fathom.
Treating the disappearance of a man with mental health issues and a history of self-harming as “low risk” is just as astounding.
Today, we have assurances that lessons have been learned and new procedures introduced to prevent a repeat of the failings in the run-up to these tragic cases.
We can ask for no more.
We appreciate Police Scotland officers have an incredibly difficult job to do, often dealing with incredibly complex situations and being forced to make judgement calls which can have devastating consequences if they go the wrong way.
We also recognise that the police simply cannot prevent every tragedy.
All that can be done is to ensure that there are rigorous procedures in place and adhered to which will ensure as far as possible that the risk is minimised.
It would be wrong to take these four cases as evidence of any deeper problem within the force and we hope public confidence is maintained.
In general, it is fair to say that people who have dealings with officers in Edinburgh, often in difficult circumstances, have a positive experience. The professionalism of the force and dedication of its officers is held in high regard.
These reports have highlighted very serious failings and made recommendations which are being acted upon at the very highest level.
That the four cases have happened so close together may be a tragic coincidence, but one which should ensure there will never be a repeat of such basic errors.