Two police officers found to have committed misconduct while attending Aylesbury suicide

Two Thames Valley Police officers have been found to have committed misconduct when responding to a report of a 22-year-old woman who had threatened to take her own life and was subsequently found dead in Aylesbury.

The Bucks Herald has chosen not to publicise her name.

Thames Valley Police

Thames Valley Police

One officer who attended the scene was found to have committed misconduct for failing to ensure they had the correct equipment ready to gain entry.

A supervising officer was found to have committed misconduct for failing to prompt the other officer to ensure they had the correct equipment to gain entry.

Another officer who attended the scene has since left the police force and so no further action could be taken.

Both of the officers who are still with the police force received management action.

Police

Police

Thames Valley Police commented (full statement below): “As a result of this tragic case, Thames Valley Police has now made enforcers, which allow officers to easily gain access to a property, readily available at Aylesbury police station.

“Further, our Armed Response Vehicles and Proactive Roads Policing Vehicles both now carry enforcers at all times.”

After a referral from Thames Valley Police, the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) began an investigation of the actions and decisions of the two officers regarding the incident.

The investigation, which included interviewing witnesses and analysing radio communications, was completed in August 2018 with the recommendation that both officers should face misconduct meetings.

On 18 August 2017, a 22-year-old woman's mental health team alerted police following calls from friends informing them that she was threatening to kill herself.

The officers who attended the scene thought she was asleep as they heard snoring. Unable to wake her, they left, believing there was no risk to her life.

Four hours later they returned and noted that the snoring had stopped. At this point they believed there was a risk to her life and needed to force entry to her property.

However, they did not have the appropriate equipment with them and so had to travel to Aylesbury Police Station to collect an ‘enforcer’ (a forcible entry tool). They struggled to find one promptly.

They eventually gained entry to the woman's property where they attempted CPR and called for an ambulance. The woman was pronounced dead by medics.

IOPC Regional Director Sarah Green, said: “Our thoughts remain with (the woman's) family and those who knew her.

“Our investigation, the subsequent independent misconduct meetings and the inquest proceedings gave a clear insight as to what happened that day. The actions of some of the officers and staff involved fell below the standard expected.

“Thames Valley Police now makes enforcers readily available at Aylesbury Police Station.”

An inquest into the death was held at Aylesbury on 29 January 2020 and delivered a narrative conclusion. The cause of her death could not be conclusively explained.

Full statement from Thames Valley Police

“Thames Valley Police acknowledges the narrative verdict returned by a coroner at the inquest into the death of (name removed) on Wednesday (29/1).

“The inquest into the death of (name removed) was held at Buckinghamshire Coroner’s Court, where the cause of death was confirmed as Amitriptyline toxicity.

“This has been a long and distressing process for everyone involved and our thoughts are with (name removed) family and friends, and everyone impacted by this tragedy.

“The force was called to (name removed) address in Aylesbury, just after 11pm on Friday 18 August 2017, after a report from a third party that (name removed) wanted to commit suicide.

“Police officers attended the address in the early hours of Saturday morning and observed that (name removed) was snoring loudly. Despite banging on the windows, the officers were unable to wake (name removed), and after consulting with their supervisor they left the scene.

“Later that morning, the officers returned to (name removed) property but on this occasion they could no longer hear her snoring. They decided to force entry to the home but did not have the necessary equipment, therefore they had to travel to the local police station before returning.

“When they were able to force entry to the property, tragically they found (name removed) deceased.

“The Force referred itself to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IOPC), who decided to conduct an independent investigation.

“The IOPC’s findings resulted in misconduct proceedings against the officers. One of the two officers who attended (name removed) property and their supervisor both received management advice after a misconduct meeting.

“The second officer who attended (name removed) address has since left the force and therefore no further action could be taken.

“As a result of this tragic case, Thames Valley Police has now made enforcers, which allow officers to easily gain access to a property, readily available at Aylesbury Police Station.

“Further, our Armed Response Vehicles and Proactive Roads Policing Vehicles both now carry enforcers at all times.”