Following an IPCC independent investigation, a recommendation was made to Lancashire Constabulary. This was in relation to actions that Lancashire Police took when they received reports that a vulnerable male suffering mental health problems, had left a hospital with concerns for his welfare prior to his death. The IPCC recommendation states:
Lancashire police should review their current working practices between local hospitals and the ambulance service, specifically on their understanding of their roles and responsibilities when dealing with concern for welfare and missing person incidents. Similarly the upgrading/downgrading of any incidents by Contact Centre staff should include a free-text full rationale as to the reasons for the change in grading and subsequent deployment/non-deployment of police resources.
The issue of clarity of Lancashire Constabularies published guidance regarding "concern for welfare checks" was subject of an interim urgent recommendation from the IPCC in this case which was received in Jan 2015. As a result of that recommendation amendments were made to the "Concern for Welfare" guidance contained within the Constabulary's S135/ 136 Menatl Health Act Protocol.
These amendments clearly pointed out that the guidance was only agreed with Lancashire Care Foundation Trust (LCFT), who run Mental Health services in Lancashire and no other health or social care organisation. These were forwarded to John Goddard of the IPCC on 4th February 2015. The amendment to the relevant section of the document reads as follows:
It is imperative that staff properly identify whether LCFT staff know that a person is at their home address and is asking for a "concern for welfare" check or if the person's whereabouts are unknown. In cases where an individual's whereabouts are unknown then the Constabulary's "Missing Persons Reporting Policy" should apply. Normal National Decision Making principles should apply to assess the level of risk and appropriate grading of the Missing From Home.
With regards to the Contact Centre Assistant (CCA) staff please note the following action; at the time of this incident there was no Demand Reduction Sergeant's (DRU) in the Control Room, to review the incident against risk and threat by applying the National Decision Making Model (NDM). A DRU Sgt will give a clear instruction of who should be dealing with the incident which would have stopped this incident being passed around the different agencies. Therefore the lesson learnt from this is that a DRU Sgt always needs to be on duty with in the Control Room, this has been addressed by increasing the DRU Sgts from 2 to 3 per team to provide cover 24/7.
The incident was also downgraded a number of times with little or no rationale, currently there is a pre-populated box which the selects from, in this occasion it was 'incident downscaled' but with no rationale to explain the CCA's decision. I have sent a request to the STORM Support team requesting a mandatory free text box is also included when an incident is downgraded so the CCA will have to record their rationale for the decision based on the NDM. I have further requested that this is a searchable field that can be reviewed by the Data Audit team to ensure a comprehensive rationale is being recorded.
Lancashire Constabulary welcome the recommendations and feedback in order to improve the quality of service to the citizens of Lancashire and have already implemented the changes.