Three call handlers have been disciplined after failing to respond to an elderly man’s calls for help who was later found dead.
Two operators at Cambridgeshire Constabulary were given written warnings while another received management advice for failing to take action after receiving calls from James Marriott.
Mr Marriott (74) made three non-emergency calls to the force’s service centre between 12.09pm and 12.29pm on February 9 saying he had banged his head and could not get up from the floor. No action was taken by any of the call handlers despite the fact that he was known by police to be suffering from schizophrenia.
His body was discovered by paramedics at his home in Whittlesey just after 6pm and a post mortem concluded that he had died of a heart attack.
The failings of the three members of staff were investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and while there was no evidence that they had committed criminal offences, the probe recommended they should be subject to disciplinary action or performance measures.
The investigation found that one male operator, who took the final call from Mr Marriott, failed to listen or obtain any information from him and failed to record an incident report or take any further action.
It was decided that he had a case to answer for gross misconduct and he was dismissed without notice on August 22. However, following an appeal he was re-instated and given a final written warning in September.
Additionally, a call handler who was conducting switchboard triage, failed to understand key aspects of her role, including the fact that she should have kept and dealt with the emergency calls rather than transferred them. She has been given a written warning.
A third operator, who failed to take sufficient information from Mr Marriott and failed to create a detailed incident report will be subject to management action and will receive further training.
As a result of the investigation the force has said it has fully implemented the two recommendations from the IPCC – to produce a call handling policy to cover procedures in the police service centre and to notify callers that they have been placed on hold if the call is being transferred for any amount of time.
The force is also giving additional training to all call handling staff and will monitor staff for understanding and compliance with the guidance.
IPCC Commissioner Sarah Green said: “They (the call handlers) were aware from previous contact that he was a vulnerable adult but failed to identify and respond to his genuine need for help.
“The post mortem 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 and the force has rightly apologised to Mr Marriott’s daughter for the failures in relation to her father.”