Saturday, 20 November 2010

If They Escape Responsibility For The Things They Do Do...

...is it then OK when they are told they have a responsibility for things they couldn't possibly foresee?

I don't think so.

Yesterday, the blogosphere was aghast at the overturning of the conviction of Mark Andrews - Anna Raccoon, Patently and Counting Cats... all posted very good reasons for seeing this as yet another nail in the coffin of public confidence in the police, and I agree with all their conclusions.

And on the same day, I read this:
Two Gwent police officers who assisted a deaf man who fell ill in the street and later died failed to exercise a proper duty of care to him, the Independent Police Complaints Commission found.
Oh? In what way? Did they ignore him? Did they assault him?

No. Their only offence, it seems, is that they failed to be psychic...
...should not have left him alone at his Newport home without ensuring a friend or relative had been informed or seeking medical aid for him themselves.
And how had he come to the attention of the police in the first place?
An inquest into Mr Lewis’ death heard he was found clinging to a lamp post in Jeffrey Street, Newport, by his friend Mark Williams on October 20, 2009, complaining of leg problems.

The hearing was told Mr Williams flagged down a passing police car driven by PC Simon Richens who asked Mr Lewis if he wanted to go to hospital, to which he replied no.

He then decided to take him home and called for assistance.
Yes. That's right. The police drove him home and attempted to give him every assistance possible.

Assistance which was REFUSED by the man himself:
The court heard PC Richens checked Mr Lewis’ mobile phone for a family contact number but could not find one.

He then asked Mr Lewis if he was OK, explained he was leaving and gave him a thumbs up, a gesture which Mr Lewis repeated.
And any other time, that'd be that. Man assisted, job done.
Two weeks later on November 3, Mr Lewis was found dead in his arm chair by his mum Dorothy Lewis.

A definite cause of death could not be established due to the condition of the body...
They've no idea why he died.

He could have made his own way home, and died, but no-one would be at fault for that.

However, because the police stopped and gave him a lift home (which I'm pretty sure isn't in their remit for normal duties, or they'de be forever driving drunks around the streets...) they are now found culpable for not overruling his wishes and taking him to A&E.

So, what's the end result of this? The police, fearing for their jobs, will now haul every drunk, drugged, ill person they meet into a crowded, overstretched A&E to make sure they are not holding the parcel when the music stops.

This is supposed to be a good thing?
... a statement from pathologist Dr Andrew Davies said that without evidence of injury or foul play, death was most likely through natural causes caused by heart disease.
Any reasonable person would have left it at that. But perhaps the Gwent Coroner has been issued too many speeding tickets, or had burglaries go unattended:
Recording an open verdict, Gwent Coroner David Bowen said he could not be sure that Mr Lewis' death would have been prevented had police taken him to hospital.

He said that while he had little doubt the officers acted with good intentions, it was not admirable to leave a person in those circumstances alone and unattended, at least until a friend or family member had been alerted, especially when that person was vulnerable.
Aha! There's the magic word: 'vulnerable'. Was he 'vulnerable' because he was deaf? Or was he 'vulnerable' because he was ill?

Or was he 'vulnerable' because we don't yet have the precognitive facility of the Precrime Department?

9 comments:

dickiebo said...

When I was young, I had complete trust and confidence in all figures of authority. Now? I realise that Coroners, Judges,Magistrates, Police Officers, Politicians, etc are most certainly no better than anybody else, but are in a position to pass judgement upon us! And, frankly, they are not particularly good at what they do!

Witterings From Witney said...

Interesting aspect to this story Julia and have linked to your post.

Jiks said...

Yep, I agree, this was in no way the fault of the coppers. If anything they went way beyond what would be expected of them.

What did the coroner expect them to do, arrest the chap for being deaf in a public place? If they had called an ambulance no doubt he would have refused their assistance as well and there is nothing to suggest there was anything wrong the chap at that point in any case.

Another case of "No good deed goes unpunished" perhaps?

microdave said...

"What did the coroner expect them to do, arrest the chap for being deaf in a public place?" - He probably thought they should have, seeing as how it's O.K. to arrest someone for being asleep in their car.

But I have to side with the police on this one.
And why not point the finger at his friend Mark Williams? He was obviously aware of the situation, so why didn't he keep an eye on him? Did he inform Mr Lewis's mother? If the police attempted and failed to find a contact, and Mr Lewis refused further help, what the hell are they supposed to do?

Lynne said...

So coppers are social workers now? And they must diagnose illnesses too?

The deaf bloke said he didn't want to go to hospital. What were the coppers supposed to do? Force him through the door of the nearest casualty department and then get sued for their trouble? Seems it's going to be a lose lose situation no matter what they do.

Next time best phone for an ambulance and pass the problem off elsewhere...

allcoppedout said...

Dickiebo has this one right. What are the IPCC doing involved in this case and not in ones that matter is my question. The answer is only partly because someone died.
Is this one of those (from comments on Anna) 'hysterical tarts' sites AP? I wouldn't want to be caught blog-kerb-crawling!
My guess is I would have taken this guy home and called for an ambulance to protect my ass. These days though, ambulance crews won't do anything if the vulnerable person declines their offer. They might then have called the cops!
I go a bit further than Dickie and think the system is now corrupt, run by people who actually can't get the evidence of being smacked in the mouth, and who smear anyone trying to point out who is holding the wet fish.

JuliaM said...

"When I was young, I had complete trust and confidence in all figures of authority. Now? I realise that Coroners, Judges,Magistrates, Police Officers, Politicians, etc are most certainly no better than anybody else..."

It's an unhappy thought, isn't it?

"If anything they went way beyond what would be expected of them."

It's most definitely a case of 'no good deed going unpunished'...

"And why not point the finger at his friend Mark Williams? He was obviously aware of the situation, so why didn't he keep an eye on him?"

Good point!

"Interesting aspect to this story Julia and have linked to your post."

Cheers! :)

"So coppers are social workers now? And they must diagnose illnesses too?"

Reading some of the police blogs, it seems that's ALL they do, in some areas...

"Is this one of those (from comments on Anna) 'hysterical tarts' sites AP? I wouldn't want to be caught blog-kerb-crawling!"

Only at Christmas, when I really let my hair down... ;)

JuliaM said...

"My guess is I would have taken this guy home and called for an ambulance to protect my ass. These days though, ambulance crews won't do anything if the vulnerable person declines their offer. They might then have called the cops!"

Indeed! I can see the potential for these future incidents to descend into a circular firing squad of blame amongst the various emergency services.

And I couldn't blame them one little bit, either...

Nick2 said...

What a surprise - A Welsh Coroner reinforcing the culture of dependency on the state that seems prevalent there...