Police failed to trace 999 caller found dead next day

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Police failed to make proper inquiries to trace a man who made a 999 call for an ambulance before being found dead in his home the following day, a review has found.

Albert Insch, 72, was living in supported accommodation in Inverness when he made the emergency call on October 26 2016, but neither the BT operator nor staff at Police Scotland’s Area Control Room (ACR) could make out what he said.

ACR workers had made an error when recording Mr Insch’s flat number following a previous 999 call and two officers responding to the October 26 call went to the wrong flat.

Receiving no reply, a neighbour who heard them knocking told the officers the occupier was a woman who was in hospital.

They left after around eight minutes as ACR staff continued to try to contact Mr Insch by telephone.

The call was closed that evening and his body was found at home the following morning by his carer.

The Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (Pirc) said the officers and ACR supervisors should have made further inquiries to establish whether Mr Insch was safe and well.

The body said it could not be determined whether, if there had been more diligent efforts to trace him, there would have been a chance to prevent his death.

Pirc recommended Police Scotland reinforce to officers and ACR staff the need to “diligently undertake inquiries into ‘dropped’ 999 calls”.

The Commissioner said: “This is a tragic case, where an elderly man endeavoured to seek emergency assistance but due to a previous error by ACR staff inaccurately recording his address and a failure by the two officers who attended to establish whether Mr Insch was safe and well, he did not receive that assistance.

“I have recommended that Police Scotland reinforce to operational officers and ACR staff the need to diligently carry out inquiries when a 999 call ends unexpectedly.

“Furthermore, I have recommended that Police Scotland ensures that especially in cases involving elderly people, officers should not leave an incident before they have established whether the person is safe and well.”

Pirc investigators who listened to the emergency call believe Mr Insch said: “Hi, ambulance please, mate”.

A worker at the supported accommodation said he took the officers to Mr Insch’s flat but they dispute this, Pirc said.

In a statement issued through Pirc, Mr Insch’s family said: “We have no further comment to make other than to thank the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner’s team for their support and professionalism surrounding the circumstances in the death or our father and husband.”

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