M9 crash deaths ‘not an isolated incident’

THE delayed response to a crash on the M9 which claimed two lives was “not an isolated incident”, claim front-line staff.

The scene of the tragic M9 crash which claimed the lives of John Yuill and Lamara Bell. Picture: Michael Gillen

In its submission to the investigation by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary Scotland (HMICS) into police call handling, trade union Unison said the deaths of John Yuill and Lamara Bell were a result of “systemic failings”.

A report published earlier this week by HMICS found Police Scotland had “inadequate” oversight of controversial changes to its control rooms.

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The watchdog was asked to carry out a review of call handling following the deaths of Mr Yuill and Ms Bell in July.

Police took three days to find their car after failing to log a call from the public. Ms Bell was still alive when officers arrived, but died later in hospital.

The report from Unison said: “The tragic deaths of John Yuill and Lamara Bell are unfortunately not an isolated incident. It is fair to say that following similar ‘internal reviews’ the investigative focus has always been firmly fixed on ‘first point of contact’ and the judgment of that individual – with no meaningful consideration of wider operational failures.”

It added: “It is our view that the deaths of John Yuill and Lamara Bell were as a result of systematic failings which are likely to continue should Police Scotland pursue the route it is travelling.”

The Unison report also notes that a high-level police group heard in April that the performance of control rooms was in a “critical condition”.

Labour’s Graeme Pearson said: “It should not take people dying for this government to finally get its act together.”