Possible Further Police Inquiry

Prior to the inquest the Police submitted a report to the coroner which exonerated the Police for any responsibility for what happened to Belinda. The family were only shown the conclusions, with not details of the terms of reference, or the scope of the investigation. As Belinda's arrest led to her admission to hospital details needed to be provided for the NHS inquiry, and the police were contacted to ensure that they agreed with the family's interpretation of what had happened then, and at a later date, when the Police used an incorrect form.

The reply was such that it appears appears that the earlier police inquiry was a deliberate whitewash. I am now asking for a further inquiry which will raise a number of issues - but the main one relates to the following series of events, which in general terms are not contested:

  • There was an incident in the street between two women and immediately afterwards both parties contacted the police.
  • Party 1 called in person, was very distressed and wanted help in avoiding further incidents rather than confrontational action.
  • Party 2 (or her husband) initially phoned (perhaps while Party 1 was still in the Police Station), and later came to the police station. The woman had some superficial scratches and the bellicose husband (who had not seen the incident) would appear to have wanted revenge.
  • Operation procedures, which were followed by the officers on duty at the time, ensured that no information relating to Party 1's visit was placed on record (not even the fact that it had taken place) and there was no way that the officers dealing with Party 2's complaint could know that Party 1 had actually been to the Police Station and made informal statements relating to the incident.
  • In their decision to arrest Party 1 over the offence alleged by Party 2, the officers concerned were unaware (because of the operational procedures in place in the Police Station) that Party 1 had already spoken to an officer about the incident, and that she was in an extremely distressed state (and might well still be distressed).
  • When she was arrested, Party 1 became suicidal and was admitted to a psychiatric ward where she died.
  • An NHS inquiry into the death of Party 1 is very likely to recognise the fact that the initial incident, and the subsequent arrest were a key trigger event leading to her death.
  • A Police inquiry, which had been asked in writing to consider the appropriateness of operational procedures, told the coroner that the police had acted in an exemplary fashion in the case described above.

The key question is whether the Police's failure to conflate two accounts of the same incident, reported in the same Police Station, all within about three hours of the incident, is an exemplary example of how the Police operate. If it was not, it would appear that the Police had deliberately mis-informed the coroner of the Police responsibility for the events, in Aylesbury Police Station,  leading to Belinda's death.

The Situation in January 2002

On reminding the police that the incidents involving the police and the death of the person who had come into the police station are specifically covered by the Police Act, the matter has now been referred to the Police Complaints Authority, who (according to our interpretation of the Act) should have been involved in the inquiry some 18 months earlier.

Afterthought 2006

Talk about banging your head against a brick wall. The Police Complaints Authority clearly saw its job as protecting the police from the public and as it was being disbanded (for doing an incompetent job) we gave up trying. One of the beauties it came out with was that giving someone known to be suicidal, and with good reason to be distrustful of the police, a piece of paper indicating that she had been charged with an offence when she had not been charged, could not possibly be relevant to her death a few days later. No-one was even prepared to give an apology.