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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

A woman who had been detained and attacked waited 11 hours for police to attend to free her.

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A victim who called police for urgent help after being detained and attacked did not have her call to the control room prioritised correctly.

The woman who was being held against her will and repeatedly assaulted had to wait more than 11 hours for police officers to help her.

She spoke to Cleveland Police made it clear from the outset that she urgently needed help and the support of the police officers.

The woman had called 999 and abandoned the call but managed to re-connect with her but it then took hours before officers attended.

An investigation was then launched and it was assessed that the incident and made a number of attempts to send officers to the scene.

But the investigation found that no police were dispatched until more than 11 hours after the incident in March 2020.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) said that during this time, the caller was allegedly held against her will and repeatedly assaulted by her half-brother. 

When officers arrived, they arrested a man at the scene on suspicion of assault and holding the individual against their will.

An investigation, completed by IOPC in February, found that during the 11 hours there was an “identified potential and serious threat to life”.

It said the force “incorrectly” assessed this incident and graded it a lower risk than they should have, which in turn led to a lower level of response.

IOPC said: “Cleveland Police control room staff and the police computer systems did not assist in escalating this un-resourced incident or highlighting that it had not been resourced for several hours.

“As a result this incident sat in an incident queue for over 11 hours until it was resourced, which was contrary to force policy.”

The non-departmental public body, responsible for handling complaints made against police forces, found that control room staff were “not totally aware” of their duties with regard to taking responsibility for and escalating emergency incidents.

It found there appeared to be different working practices in place across various shifts. This led to a breakdown in communication as well as an awareness of individual and team roles and resulted in a lack of consistent working across different teams in the control room.

IOPC said: “The investigation found that this was a key contributor in the failure to resource an emergency call for assistance in a timely manner, which was contrary to force policy and procedures.”

According to the investigation, no adequate role and responsibility structure was in place at the time of this incident and there was a lack of initial and ongoing training for control room staff and supervisors.

IOPC said that an Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services inspection acknowledged that the force has improved its prioritisation of vulnerable victims and management of incident queues.

However it noted that there is still work to be done to ensure incidents graded as high risk are responded to in time.

It ruled that no Cleveland Police officer or member or police staff behaved in a manner that would justify the bringing of disciplinary proceedings or committed a criminal offence.

It also said that no individual performance needs to be addressed but systemic errors contributed to failings.

However, it made learning recommendations for the force, to improve policing and public confidence in the police complaints system and prevent a recurrence of similar incidents.

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Trevor Sherwood
Trevor Sherwood
Trevor Sherwood is the editor and news reporter covering national and international news crime and policing news. Tweet your news and views to @TrevSherwoodPH

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