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11 May 2017
The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that Police should have responded with more urgency to two 111 calls made by a woman in Omapere, Northland on 26 October 2015.
The woman’s mentally ill son stabbed her before Police arrived. She was taken to hospital by helicopter and survived the attack.
The Authority completed its investigation into this incident in September 2016, but delayed the release of its public report until after the conclusion of related court proceedings in March 2017.
The woman initially called 111 at about 6am and reported to Police that her son, who had a history of serious mental health problems and was known to Police, was behaving erratically and had pushed her.
Police put the event ‘on hold’ until a pre-existing Mental Health Crisis Team appointment took place at 10am.
At 10.43am, the woman called 111 for the second time to report that the Crisis Team would not take her son away because they did not consider him to be sick enough. The woman told Police that she feared for her safety and did not want her son to stay in the house.
Police told the woman that officers would attend when a unit became available. The Police Northern Communications Centre (NorthComms) dispatcher notified two officers who were in Omapere at the time, and they agreed to attend after they had completed their enquiries on an unrelated matter.
The officers were about to contact the woman when, at 11.15am, Police received a third 111 call reporting that the woman had been stabbed by her son.
The Authority found that Police should have attended the incident after the first 111 call, due to the woman’s concerns for her and her family’s safety. The NorthComms dispatcher should have passed on all of the relevant information from this 111 call to the field supervisor before they decided it was unnecessary to dispatch the on-call officer to attend the incident. Additionally, Police should not have closed the event without advising her of their decision not to attend.
“Police underestimated the woman’s concerns and did not respond to the first or second 111 calls with enough urgency”, said Authority Chair, Judge Sir David Carruthers.
Police responded promptly and appropriately to the third call.
“The Authority notes that ongoing work is being undertaken by Police and Mental Health Services throughout the country to ensure that there is a more co-ordinated inter-agency response to calls for service relating to those experiencing a mental health crisis”, said Sir David.
Police response to three 111 calls in Omapere (PDF, 508 kb)