Cambridgeshire Police operators 'failed to listen' to Whittlesey man

Three police call handlers have been criticised after failing to listen to a man who later died of a heart attack.

James Marriott, 74, was found dead at his home on Horsegate Lane, Whittlesey, at around 18:00 GMT on 9 February.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found Mr Marriott had spoken to three Cambridgeshire Police operators between 12:09 and 12:29.

The IPCC said there were "clear failings in the way the three call handlers dealt with Mr Marriott".

A report by the police watchdog said in each of the calls to the non-emergency police phone line, Mr Marriott, who suffered from schizophrenia, had stated that he had banged his head and could not get up from the floor.

No action was taken in response to his calls.

The IPCC investigation found no evidence that the three police staff had committed criminal offences but recommended the trio should be subject to disciplinary action or performance measures.

'Rightly apologised'

The report stated that one operator had received a written warning for transferring calls from Mr Marriot she should have dealt with, while another would receive further training after failing to take sufficient information from the 74-year-old and failing to create a sufficiently detailed incident report.

The third operator, who the IPCC said had failed to listen to Mr Marriott or obtain any information from him and failed to record an incident report or take any action, had been dismissed without notice on 22 August.

However, the operator appealed against the sanction and was re-instated with a final written warning in September.

IPCC Commissioner Sarah Green said the investigation found all three "were aware from previous contact that [Mr Marriott] was a vulnerable adult but failed to identify and respond to his genuine need for help".

"The post mortem [examination] and pathologist report did not find that the delay in the police response caused or contributed to the death, but there were clear failings in the way the three call handlers dealt with Mr Marriott," she said.

She added that Cambridgeshire Police had "rightly apologised to Mr Marriott's daughter for the failures in relation to her father".

Head of contact management for the force Det Supt Chris Mead said: "This was a tragic incident and I have given my condolences in person to Mr Marriott's family.

"There were clear failings in the way the calls from Mr Marriott were handled and we have worked alongside the IPCC to ensure a thorough investigation was carried out and that lessons are learned.

"We have implemented all the IPCC's recommendations and are committed to ensuring this doesn't happen again in future."

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