Police 'could have prevented murder of woman by brother'
Elizabeth Bowe called 999 shortly before the attack by Charles Gordon in St Andrews.
Police could have prevented the death of a woman who was murdered by her brother had they appropriately responded to to a 999 call she made, a watchdog has said.
Elizabeth Bowe was attacked by her brother Charles Gordon at her flat in St Andrews, Fife, on September 17 last year.
Ms Bowe, 50, died in hospital three days later and Gordon was later convicted of her murder.
The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) has now revealed she called police to ask for help shortly before she was attacked.
The grandmother said her brother had stolen her phone and she was a vulnerable person who was in a "domestic violence situation".
Her call was initially classed as grade two, which required a police response within 15 minutes.
When the incident was passed to Police Scotland's Bilston Glen control room a staff member there assessed no crime had taken place and sent a voicemail to Ms Bowe saying police would not be attending.
The voicemail, left at 8.12pm, said: "Elizabeth, this is Police Scotland here. It's regarding your so-called theft of a phone by your brother. Your brother is in the house.
"He has not stolen your phone. The police are not going to attend. And also the 999 calls are for emergencies only, certainly not for this type of incident."
Just over an hour later, at 9.24pm, Gordon called 999 and said he had killed his sister.
'It's regarding your so-called theft of a phone by your brother. Your brother is in the house. He has not stolen your phone. The police are not going to attend.'Police Scotland controller's voicemail to Elizabeth Bowe
The commissioner, Kate Frame, said: "Had Police Scotland timeously dispatched resources in accordance with their call priority system following Elizabeth Bowe's 999 call one hour and 24 minutes earlier, officers may have arrived at her home prior to her receiving the injuries from which she died and thereby prevented her death.
"I have made a number of recommendations to the chief constable to ensure that priority calls from vulnerable persons such as Elizabeth Bowe are responded to appropriately."
She recommended staff at Bilston Glen receive appropriate training in handling calls from vulnerable people.
Ms Bowe had been officially classed as a vulnerable person and an alarm had been installed in her house.
A statement released on behalf of her family said: "The past year has put a terrible strain on the family and we now just want to move on with our lives.
"The circumstances of the death of Elizabeth, who was a caring mother and grandmother, was a shock to us all and we appreciate the support we have received, but would now wish our privacy to be respected.
"The PIRC report has made a number of recommendations on how Police Scotland should deal with calls from vulnerable people. We hope these will be taken forward so that changes are made to avoid something similar happening again."
Police Scotland said they accepted the findings of the PIRC report and would work to implement its recommendations.
Assistant chief constable Nelson Telfer said: "Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of Elizabeth Bowe and all those affected by her death.
"Since the incident in September 2016, Police Scotland have given risk and vulnerability training to over 800 staff, which assists in identifying and assessing risk at the first point of contact as well as capturing the right and relevant information."
He added: "Police Scotland receives in excess of tens of thousands of calls every year regarding vulnerable persons and further guidance has been given to call handlers and area control room staff with regards to the downgrading and closure of incidents."
Mr Telfer said a revised system was now in place for incidents involving vulnerable people.