PCs who visited McDonald's before 999 call will keep their jobs

By Nick Beake
Home Affairs Correspondent, BBC News

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The officers bought tea in McDonald's before acting upon the 999 call

Two police officers who bought cups of tea at a McDonald's before going to an emergency call for a suicidal woman look set to keep their jobs after being cleared of gross misconduct.

Fahima Begum, 22, was found hanged at her home in April 2015 after she sent a suicidal text message to a friend.

Met Police officers Gavin Bateman and Tony Stephenson took nearly 40 minutes to arrive after accepting the call.

They both admitted misconduct but denied gross misconduct.

All parties at the hearing agreed the officers could not have saved her, even if they had responded immediately.

Had the disciplinary panel found them guilty of gross misconduct they could have lost their jobs.

But chair of the panel, Akbar Khan, accepted that while the officers' actions had breached the standards accepted of them it did not warrant their dismissal.

Mr Khan said the panel accepted the argument made on behalf of the officers that they had not been properly trained on how to deal with with alerts from colleagues in the control centre.

'Lack of urgency'

The officers, who are based in Tower Hamlets, east London, accepted an emergency call at 00:04 BST on 16 April that was graded "S" for "significant", the hearing was told.

They were told a "psychotic" woman, who had sent a "suicidal text message" to a friend, was not the answering the door and there was a "significant risk of danger" to herself or others.

But instead of going to Ms Begum's home, the officers drove to McDonald's and then went to a roundabout to fill in paperwork from a previous job.

At 00:40 BST, the pair arrived at Ms Begum's home and found her dead.

Amy Clarke, on behalf of the Met Police, said the "lack of insight and appropriate decision-making" constituted gross misconduct and justified their dismissal.

She said: "The lack of urgency both of these officers showed fell woefully short of the standards expected of them."

However Ben Summers, representing PC Stephenson, said the officer had not been properly trained and believed he had up to an hour to respond.

Guy Ladenburg, for PC Bateman, said his client was a "thoroughly diligent and committed officer who made an isolated lapse."

The panel will announce tomorrow what sanctions the officers will face on Tuesday.

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