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Police call centre cuts 'have nothing to do with errors'

Assistant chief constable Nelson Telfer says mistakes were down to 'the human factor'.

Police: Officers were sent to the wrong town in one mishandled case.
Police: Officers were sent to the wrong town in one mishandled case. PA Wire

Police Scotland's assistant chief constable has claimed the cutting of local call centres is not a contributing factor in a series of mishandled incident reports.

Nelson Telfer defended the force's decision to axe some local call handling centres in the wake of a police watchdog report that found a murder of vulnerable women could have been prevented if her call was handled properly.

Elizabeth Bowe was murdered by her brother, Charles Bowe, last year despite her calling police for help.

Details of the call were passed to a police control room where a staff member assessed no crime had been committed and left her a voicemail saying police would not be attending.

A little over an hour later her brother phoned police to inform them he had killed her.

https://stv.tv/news/east-central/1401670-police-could-have-prevented-murder-of-woman-by-brother/ | default

Mr Telfer told BBC Radio Scotland "no one lives in an error-free environment" but his force had "picked up on" 202 incidents that were mishandled.

He pointed out only 71 were made through 999 calls while the rest came through either 101 calls or emails.

Mr Telfer said: "I don't think the centralisation of call handling or any process we have put in place or any systems that we use to back that up have got anything to do with this.

"I've already said this is the human factor. When human beings are dealing with decision-making sometimes the decision-making will be wrong and we need to pick up on that and learn from it and move forward."

His comments come after Ms Bowe's case and a number of others were raised at First Minister's Questions at Holyrood on Thursday by Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson.

https://stv.tv/news/politics/1401856-davidson-slams-sturgeon-over-unheeded-999-police-calls/ | default

Davidson raised the fact 200 calls to the force went "unheeded", including a suicidal man being told to "hang up" the phone.

Other cases she highlighted included "a woman threatened by her ex-partner who didn't get a response from police because they were sent to the wrong address" and "a man threatened with a knife where police were sent to the right flat in the right street but in the wrong town".

In another incident, police were sent to the wrong town while a man was being threatened with a knife.

The First Minister said "significant action" has been taken by the Scottish Government to "strengthen the call handling processes" in recent times.

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