Four rapped after 999 caller death

Warwickshire police has apologised to the family of Luisa Mendes

Warwickshire police has apologised to the family of Luisa Mendes

First published in National News © by

Police call handlers and an inspector have been disciplined by a force over failings relating to a 999 call from a vulnerable woman later found dead.

In all, failings by three Warwickshire Police staff and a control room inspector were identified in an Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) report out today, in connection with the case of Luisa Mendes.

The call handlers have each received 12-month final written warnings, while the senior officer "received management action" said the IPCC.

Investigators concluded that while it was not clear whether failings in the force control room had any bearing on Ms Mendes' death, it was clear "this woman was let down by the force".

Warwickshire Police has already apologised to her family.

A "rowdy" 999 call, initially made to police on the evening of October 24 2012, was traced to 44-year-old Ms Mendes, who alleged she had been attacked, said investigators.

A force control room operator did initially correctly categorise the call as a priority, meaning officers should attend within an hour, but it was not until the next morning police were sent to the home in Leamington Spa.

Shortly before 11am on October 25, about 14 hours after the initial 999 call, she was found dead at the address.

The IPCC noted the police had had officers available "locally and force-wide" at the time of the initial call.

Investigators found that between 8.24pm and 10.59pm, three other call handlers viewed the incident log 10 times, but failed to notify their supervisors that no police had been sent to the address.

The IPCC concluded the supervising inspector had also failed in his responsibilities, never questioning why officers were not sent to Ms Mendes' home - a breach of the force's policies.

All four have all now been dealt with through the force's internal disciplinary procedures.

The IPCC concluded it was "more likely than not that the previous rowdy calls from the address prejudiced the response of the controllers who simply treated this as another nuisance call which did not require an immediate attendance".

It went on: "Whether due to a lack of information, or a lack of understanding, it is clear they did not recognise Ms Mendes' vulnerability."

Investigators added: "We cannot say whether police attendance on 24 October 2012 would have had any bearing in relation to Ms Mendes' death.

"However what is clear is that this woman was let down by the force, and it is only right that they have offered an apology to her family.

"I hope that our recommendations go some way to preventing such a tragedy happening again."

The IPCC has made recommendations for the force to examine its control room handover processes and how it manages priority category calls.

A separate domestic homicide review is being carried out into the case, including the issue of historical contact between Ms Mendes, the police force and other agencies.

The IPCC is also reviewing the police's previous contact with the woman, in addition to that process.

In response to today's report, Deputy Chief Constable for Warwickshire Police, Lewis Benjamin, said the IPCC had "rightly identified" the actions of its employees had fallen below the standard.

"The force recognises that on this occasion we did not deliver a high quality service and former Deputy Chief Constable Neil Brunton has already personally apologised on behalf of the force to the family of Ms Mendes."

Accepting the IPCC's recommendations, Mr Benjamin added: "What makes this case all the more tragic was the contact members of Warwickshire Police had with Luisa in the hours prior to her death and that the response to her call for assistance was not delivered to the expected and usual high standards.

"Internal disciplinary and misconduct procedures have now been concluded in respect of all the individuals investigated by the IPCC," he said.

"The outcome of these was that three members of police staff received final written warnings and in addition an inspector was given management action."

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