Police Scotland control room criticised over death

Police Scotland took seven days to investigate concerns about a vulnerable man who was later found dead, according to a critical report by watchdogs which raises fresh questions about the force's call-handling procedures.

Friday, 21st July 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 12:34 pm
Fresh questions have been raised about Police Scotland's call-handling procedures. Picture: Julie Bull/TSPL

The Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (Pirc) identified multiple failings in the way police responded to fears about the welfare of Andrew Bow, who had Asperger’s Syndrome and learning difficulties.

It said members of the public had raised concerns with police on four occasions before officers finally visited the 37-year-old’s flat in Edinburgh, where he was found dead.

A series of calls about Mr Bow were made to the Area Control Room at Bilston Glen, the same centre which was heavily criticised following the deaths of John Yuill and Lamara Bell in July 2015.

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The couple lay undiscovered in their wrecked car for three days following a crash on the M9 near Stirling, after officers failed to respond to a sighting by a member of the public.

The Pirc report says Mr Bow was last seen by police officers on 12 March last year, when they found him in a confused and paranoid state. He was taken to hospital and then back to his flat.

On 16 March, police were contacted by Edinburgh Council and asked to investigate reports that several windows of the property had been broken, but no action was taken.

Five days later a local shopkeeper called 999 to report the broken windows and offered to help police find the house. Again no officers were sent despite the shopkeeper calling again the next day.

Another neighbour also raised concerns over Mr Bow’s welfare, telling police that he may have “hurt himself” or “committed suicide”, but officers did not visit until 23 March after a sergeant read details about the calls on the force’s computer system.

Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Nelson Telfer said the force had offered its “sincere apologies” to Mr Bow’s relatives, promising that “significant changes and improvements” had been made since the incident.

“Even after the passage of time, our thoughts remain with Andrew’s family and friends,” he added. “We must learn from these findings to further improve our call handling and management and deployment of local policing resources.”