Police apology for neglect after man took own life

POLICE have issued a grovelling apology to an Edinburgh family after admitting that officers showed a “neglect of duty” towards a mentally ill man who took his own life.

Christopher Peden called 999 asking to be placed in care for his own safety. But police who arrived at his home failed to call for an ambulance. The 26-year-old ran into the path of a car later that night.

Two officers now face disciplinary proceedings over their actions.

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His dad, Edward, has slammed the then Lothian and Borders Police for his four-year wait for answers following Christopher’s death in January 2009.

The apology comes after a series of complaints were upheld by the Police Complaints Commissioner.

Mr Peden, 67, says the officers involved have “blood on their hands” for ignoring Christopher’s pleas for medical help and leaving him to take his own life that night.

Christopher, who had a history of drug dependence and mental health problems, deliberately stepped into oncoming traffic after officers ignored his pleas for an ambulance and left him at his home.

Mr Peden said: “They shouldn’t be allowed to stay in their jobs. If I had my way I’d have them done for manslaughter. He was a vulnerable adult who had asked for medical help but they wouldn’t give it to him.

“Not calling an ambulance was the catalyst for his death. If they had phoned for an ambulance, he would have been taken to hospital and he would have been nowhere near that road.

“It’s their negligence that has cost him his life and they’ve lied about it ever since.”

Officers were sent to his address at Hailesland Grove, Wester Hailes, after he called 999 wanting to be put in care for mental health anxieties. They called the Scottish Ambulance Service but did not request an ambulance to be dispatched after hearing the only place he could be taken was to A&E.

Officers later claimed paramedics had refused to attend as Christopher had been drinking, but this was later disproved when a transcript between the two services showed it had never been requested.

The independent report upheld complaints about investigations into the case, which suggested officers had given statements to back up each other’s accounts, and criticised delays to investigations after his family lodged a complaint.

Ten recommendations were made to Lothian and Borders Police, which included 
formulating a policy for how they dealt with mental health emergencies.

The force, now Police Scotland, has now finally written to Mr Peden, admitting to depriving Christopher of an “appropriate medical response”.

That night, on January 2, 2009, Christopher walked to Wester Hailes Road where witnesses reported him shouting at cars to hit him.

He sat in the middle of the road goading vehicles to hit him, before running into the path of an oncoming vehicle. He died of his injuries the following day.

The commission’s report criticised the force’s handling of four complaints, in relation to that night and two subsequent investigations, and concluded they had not been dealt with in a “reasonable manner”.

Iain Whyte, convener of Lothian and Borders Police Board and chair of the Scottish Police Authority Conveners’ Forum, said: “Obviously it is appropriate that the police apologise for the failings in this case and do what they can to make sure these kind of things don’t happen in the future.”

A police spokesman said: “This is a complaint that has been reviewed by the Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland, and through ongoing communication with the complainant we have identified a number of points which are subject to ongoing inquiry under the Police (Conduct) (Scotland) Regulations 1996.”

First arrests made as new era begins

A MAN charged with a breach of the peace following a domestic disturbance became the first person in Edinburgh to be arrested by Police Scotland, 15 minutes after its launch.

The 30-year-old was detained by officers at 12.15am yesterday, only a quarter of an hour after they ceased to be part of the Lothian and Borders force.

Across Scotland, a man in his 20s became the first person to be arrested by the single force when he was detained in Glasgow at 12.01am yesterday for assaulting a police officer and a breach of the peace.

A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Officers were called to an address in the Newhaven area of Edinburgh just after midnight following reports of a domestic disturbance.

“A 30-year-old man was arrested and charged in connection with the incident, and he was remanded in custody to appear at Edinburgh Sheriff Court today.”

At midnight, Chief Constable Steve House visited the

Capital’s West End police station to mark the occasion.

Mr House said: “Police

Scotland is now wholly responsible for the delivery of policing to our communities, from local response to tackling the highest tiers of criminality.

“We will do this in a way which is very visible, accessible and which truly connects with public priorities, demand and tackles threat, risk and harm where it arises.”

But the launch of Police Scotland on Easter Monday meant many support staff workers - including the communications office - were not at work. Only an on-call press officer was available to provide information on how the first day’s policing under the single force was proceeding.

We told yesterday how senior officers will join rank-and-file bobbies on a regular basis to nab criminals.