An independent investigation by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner into failings in the Police response to concerns for a vulnerable woman found dead in Dumfries in February 2016, raises questions over the “rush” by Police Scotland to close the police control room in Dumfries in 2014, according to South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth.

The report found that when the woman’s daughter phoned the police and raised safety fears about her mother to police control staff based in Govan in Glasgow, police went to the wrong address of the woman due an issue between mapping and command and control systems meant officers went to the wrong address.

It then took more than four-and-a-half hours for the Police to realise they had attended the wrong address and the woman was then found dead by Police at the correct address.

Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) Kate Frame highlighted a number of failings in a report published on Friday (18 August) although did concluded that the woman had “probably” already died before the Police were contacted.

Commenting on the report Colin Smyth MSP said:

 “This is a very sad case and it is disappointing to hear that Police Scotland let this family down in the way they responded to a call made to them. Although it is reasonable for the Commissioner to conclude that the lady had probably sadly died before police had been contacted, it is not unreasonable for someone to conclude that the systems put in place to deal with phone calls to the police from people in Dumfries since the closure of the local control room in 2014 were not fit for purpose at the time of this incident. 

It’s hard to imagine that officers would have gone to the wrong address if the call had been received at the former control room at Cornwall Mount Station in Dumfries, literally round the corner from the lady’s house in Cresswell. The control in Dumfries was the first to be axed by Police Scotland, followed by Stirling and Glenrothes, before the timetable for the next set of closures was delayed when it became clear there were massive problems with the implementation of the closures and the new arrangements that had been put in place. I suspect this is only one of many issues and we only know about it because the deeply sad circumstances led to an investigation”.

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