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The Manchester Evening News
Feb 19, 2013 07:13
By Richard Wheatstone
Police have been slammed for their handling of a suicidal woman found dead in her home with her four-year-old son – 13 hours after her frantic mother had called 999.
Georgina Beevers, 37, was discovered by officers at the house in Bredbury, Stockport, at 8.17am on January 30 last year. Her young son had answered the door to police, who found Georgina on the living room sofa.
Her mother, Sheila, had raised the alarm at 6.44pm the previous evening – telling the 999 operator Georgina’s partner had been ‘battling to stop her taking an overdose’. He left shortly after warning Mrs Beevers.
Now an investigation by the police watchdog, the IPCC, has found a ‘lack of diligence’ saw the log downgraded from one requiring immediate attendance.
It was later misread by a police officer who only looked at 11 of the 12 pages and didn’t realize Georgina was a suicide risk.
Sheila, 65, of Hindsford Close, Wythenshawe, was unable to drive to her daughter’s home as she was on strong medication and made a series of frantic calls to police and social services on the night of the tragedy.
She told of her ongoing anger at the police’s failure to act as her daughter prepared to overdose on prescription anti-depressants in a ‘cry for help’.
She said: “If they’d have gone round within those first two hours, as they should have done, she would still be alive today. “I was there for her whole life and the one night I needed the help of police and social services. They did nothing.
“I had told them my daughter had threatened suicide yet there was no line of communication. If I’d have known they weren’t going to go round I’d have ordered a taxi and gone myself.”
The IPCC probe found the 999 call handler had correctly recognized the incident as Grade 1 – requiring an emergency response. But two minutes later a radio operator asked for it to be downgraded to Grade 2 – a decision that was sanctioned by a supervisor at 6.49pm.
A Grade 2 call still requires police attendance within an hour.
But an ongoing armed robbery and a missing person meant no officer was assigned until 9.25pm.
The IPCC found the police constable given the job had read 11 of the 12 pages in two minutes – but not the final page. He knocked on the door around an hour later but left when he got no response, suggesting another officer should go round in the morning.
He later claimed not to have seen a section of the notes on Georgina’s suicide risk.
The IPCC found he had failed to read the log properly, failed to understand the nature of the incident and failed to act diligently.
The radio operator has since received ‘management action’ from GMP. Neither of two supervisors working in the control room accepted responsibility for downgrading the call. No action has been taken against them.
IPCC Commissioner Naseem Malik said: “This was an incident that needed a priority response. It didn’t get one due to flawed decision making and a lack of diligence.”
Assistant Chief Constable Zoe Sheard, said: “We will continue to work with the family to provide whatever support or assistance we can and are also supporting those officers and members of staff directly involved who have been personally affected by what happened.”