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Woman found dead at home 12 hours after police visited

Watchdog says police should have responded differently but couldn't have prevented death.

Police: Woman was found 12 hours later.
Police: Woman was found 12 hours later. STV

A woman was found dead in her home 12 hours after police first visited to investigate her whereabouts, a watchdog has found.

Officers first went to the Ayrshire house on the afternoon of December 28, 2018 after concerns were raised for the 38-year-old, but they could not establish whether anyone was at home.

The Police Investigation and Review Commissioner (Pirc) report said neighbours told the officers they had heard someone moving around inside the previous evening, which led them to assume she was alive and inside.

But when night-shift officers went to the property early the next day they looked through a gap in the blinds  and saw the woman's body.

They forced entry to the house and found her unresponsive. She was pronounced dead by a paramedic a short time later.

Pirc said a missing person report should have been created after the first officers failed to trace her, which would have led to her home being searched.

'It is unlikely if the initial attending officers had forced entry to the house on their arrival that the woman's death could have been prevented'
Police Investigation & Review Commissioner

But the watchdog found it was unlikely the death could have been prevented if officers had forced entry earlier.

It also said the officers who initially attended conducted "appropriate inquiries to locate the woman".

The report said: "Entry was forced to the woman's home some 12 hours after the police initially attended at the house.

"It is unlikely if the initial attending officers had forced entry to the house on their arrival that the woman's death could have been prevented."

The report said the cause of death was the combined adverse effects of multiple use of drugs. Pirc said police have implemented a number of recommendations made in the report.

They included reminding officers of procedures to follow in missing person cases and refreshing staff in the area control room on the importance of providing officers with all relevant information.

Police Scotland assistant chief constable John Hawkins said: "This was a tragic death and our thoughts remain with the woman's family and friends.

"As noted by the Pirc, we have implemented the commissioner's recommendations.

"We are introducing a new approach to call assessment to ensure we can provide better service to the public by taking more information from the caller so that we can make a more robust assessment of risk, threat and harm and vulnerability to ensure every caller gets the right response."

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