Midlothian police ‘took over two hours to respond to call for help’

Police took more than two hours to respond to a call following an attempted break in.
Police took more than two hours to respond to a call following an attempted break in.
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POLICE failed to respond to calls from a woman who contacted them three times as would-be intruders attempted to break into her house.

The calls were made to the Bilston Glen contact centre in Midlothian, with failings identified in the way the incident was handled.

It has emerged that the woman, who has not been identified, had to wait two-and-a half-hours for police officers to reach the address.

By this time, the men trying to enter her home had vanished.

The woman first called police at 8.52pm on October 4 last year and told them two men were “trying to bang down the door”.

She begged call handlers to send officers “as soon as possible” and said she was “very scared”.

Staff assured her that they would get police to the property “as soon as we can”.

However, when they failed to appear, the woman was forced to call the centre over an hour later to warn that the men were trying to open her door.

According to the complaint, call handlers told the woman that officers were at the scene, but police again failed to arrive.

The woman made a third call at 10.49pm after being verbally abused by the two men.

Officers finally arrived at 11.22pm. However, they were unable to find the culprits.

The woman complained that police had taken too long to respond to her pleas for help. She also said that a call handler had left her feeling like an “inconvenience”.

Staff at the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) agreed that officers took “excessive” time to respond, although they did not uphold the complaint about the tone of staff at Bilston Glen.

The Midlothian call centre was also involved in the M9 accident scandal in which Lamara Bell and boyfriend John Yuill died.

Ms Bell, 25, was left lying alive in a wrecked car for three days last year after it crashed off the M9 near Stirling. Police had failed to respond to a 101 call from a witness who had seen the crashed vehicle.

Ms Bell died in hospital after finally being rescued. Mr Yuill, 28, was found dead in the car. Ms Bell’s mother, Diane Bell, has hit out at news of the latest failings. She said the incident was a sign that things within Police Scotland were “not right”.

Police Scotland said the mix-up was due to officers on the ground and not staff at Bilston Glen. A spokeswoman said: “The recommendations contained in this complaint handling review are currently being considered by Police Scotland.”