FMQs: 200 new blunders by Police call centres

Nicola Sturgeon today came under fire over 200 fresh incidents of 999 police call centre blunders over the past year.
Ruth Davidson raised fresh concerns over call handlingRuth Davidson raised fresh concerns over call handling
Ruth Davidson raised fresh concerns over call handling

A suicidal man who was told by call handlers to hang up and a woman who had to phone three times to report a dead body in her property were among the issues highlighted by Tory leader Ruth Davidson at First Minister's Questions today.

They follow a shocking case which emerged this week of Elizabeth Bowe whose 999 appeal for help was not acted on by control room staff at Police Scotland. She was later killed by her brother.

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The cases were branded "completely unacceptable" by Ms Sturgeon, but she insisted that improvements were being made by the new single police force.

But Ms Davidson said: “We were promised that taking control rooms out of local areas wouldn’t result in a loss of local knowledge.

“Michael Matheson promised that if performance dropped at any of these centres there would be ‘rapid intervention’.

“He made that pledge two years ago, and yet we’re still seeing hundreds of incidents. The SNP government has lost the confidence of the police on this matter, and needs to get a grip.”

The Scottish Conservative leader highlighted six specific instances – all of which have occurred in the last year. Others included a householder who called to report that his door was being kicked in, but officers were never dispatched to investigate. Officers were also sent to the wrong address while a woman was receiving threats from an ex-partner, while police were sent to the wrong town to help a man being threatened with a knife.

The First Minister said: "Every singe one of the incidents that has been cited today by Ruth Davidson is serious and unacceptable. I don't want anyone to hear what I say today as detracting from the seriousness and unacceptability of these incidents.

"I do think it's important to put the situation into context. Ruth Davidson cites 200 incidents, as I say completely unacceptable . But Police Scotland handle 2.6 million calls every year."

Ms Sturgeon added that "lessons will be learned", but pointed to inspectorate reports which indicated that "significant improvements have been made" in emergency call handling.