Police apologise for three-day delay in M9 fatal crash
- 10 July 2015
- From the section Tayside and Central Scotland
Scotland's most senior policeman has apologised to the families of a couple who were left in a car wreck for three days after the crash was reported.
John Yuill died and Lamara Bell was critically injured in the crash on the M9 on Sunday, but the pair were only discovered by officers on Wednesday.
Sir Stephen House said information from a call received on Sunday had not been entered into police systems.
The chief constable admitted that the force had "failed both families".
There have been calls for an independent investigation of the case.
The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc) is reviewing the handling of the incident, focusing on the call on Sunday.
Mr Yuill, 28, was killed and Ms Bell, 25, is in a medically induced coma at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, having suffered kidney damage from dehydration from lying in the wreckage for so long. Her condition was described by doctors as "very serious".
Her family said they were angry and disgusted by the way Police Scotland had handled the case.
The chief constable said a member of the public had called the 101 non-emergency number at about 11:30 on Sunday after seeing the car down the embankment near the Bannockburn slip road.
The call had been taken by an "experienced officer", who remains on duty. However, "for reasons yet to be established" this was never entered into systems or sent out to operational teams in the area.
Sir Stephen said: "Firstly I want to apologise to the families of John Yuill and Lamara Bell and to the people of Scotland for this individual failure in our service. Everyone in Police Scotland feels this most profoundly.
"Our duty is to keep people safe and we've not done that effectively on this occasion, with tragic consequences, and I want to apologise to everyone for that.
"I completely understand the level of concern being raised about the circumstances surrounding the handling of the incident of the crash near the M9 slip road at Bannockburn and, in particular, Police Scotland's response to information received.
"That we failed both families involved is without doubt."
Sir Stephen said the incident had been "rightly" referred to Pirc and the Crown Office, and that police would remain independent of the investigation.
Justice secretary Michael Matheson, also the local MSP for Falkirk West, said he was keen for the investigations to be taken forward in a "quick and very swift way".
He said he had been assured by Police Scotland that all relevant information would be passed on to Pirc.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie has written to Mr Matheson asking for a full independent inquiry, saying the closure of a number of local control rooms under the move to the single police force could have had a "detrimental impact".
He said: "Public anger and sadness over the events which unfolded this week has been substantial, and underlines the importance of getting answers over how this situation unfolded.
"There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that the decision to close a number of police control rooms has had a detrimental impact on the quality of service that hard-working call centre staff are able to provide.
"Our response to this incident must allow for a close examination of the current situation in Police Scotland's remaining call centres. If these cuts have made life more difficult for officers and the communities they serve, then we need to know about it."