Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 


Police could have prevented death, independent report finds

MEDIA STATEMENT
28 February 2013
EMBARGOED 12 NOON

Police could have prevented death, independent report finds

Police could have prevented the death of Diane White, the Independent Police Conduct Authority has found.

On Tuesday 19 January 2010, Police were told that Christine Judith Morris, a mental health patient at the Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre in Hamilton, had escaped after threatening to kill her next-door neighbour, Diane Elizabeth White.

Later that day Police found Mrs White dead in her home. She had been killed by Ms Morris.

The Independent Police Conduct Authority today released its independent investigation into the death of Mrs White. The report concluded that Police had the information and the ability to prevent the death of Mrs White if they had responded appropriately.

Summary of Events
On the morning of Tuesday 19 January 2010, Police were notified by fax and telephone that Christine Judith Morris – a 40-year-old profoundly deaf patient at the Henry Rongomau Bennett Centre in Hamilton with a serious mental health illness – was missing after climbing over a fence at about 10am. Immediately before escaping she had threatened to kill her next-door neighbour, Diane Elizabeth White, 53.

The fax sent from the Henry Bennett Centre at 10.09am was not received by Police until 11.04am, because their fax machine was out of service until just before 11am and messages were not diverted. The Henry Bennett Centre nurse followed up the fax with a telephone call to the Hamilton Police Station but received no response. She eventually called 111 at about 11.07am and spoke to the Police Northern Communications Centre (NorthComms).

At 11.13am two Police officers were dispatched to Ms Morris’s address. They were unable to find her, but spoke briefly with Mrs White as she mowed her lawn, and advised her to call Police immediately if she saw Ms Morris. The officers then left.

Shortly afterwards, at 11.30am, Police received a second call from the Henry Bennett Centre advising that Ms Y, who lived near Ms Morris, had reported that Ms Morris was with her and was making threats to harm Mrs White. A NorthComms dispatcher mistook the information from this call as a repeat of the information from the first call, and subsequently no officers were dispatched to Ms Y’s address to apprehend Ms Morris.

At 12.19pm Ms Y called Police advising that Ms Morris had just left her address. After a few minutes Ms Y reported that Ms Morris had returned with blood on her face. Officers were again dispatched to find Ms Morris. They discovered that Mrs White had been attacked and killed in her home with a blood-stained hammer found nearby.

Police quickly located Ms Morris and took her into custody. She later pleaded guilty to the murder of Mrs White, and on 2 April 2012 was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum non-parole period of 10 years.

The Authority’s investigation considered whether Police complied with relevant law and policy during this incident, specifically in relation to the initial missing person notification; the handling by NorthComms of each of the three calls; and the Police response to the calls.

The Authority also looked at whether arrangements between Police and the Ministry of Health regarding missing mental health patients were satisfactory.

Conclusions

Police had the information and the ability to prevent the death of Mrs White if they had responded appropriately to the available information, the Authority’s report said.

The key failure was that officers were not sent to Ms Y’s address after the second call from the Henry Bennett Centre alerting Police to the location of Ms Morris. “If that had occurred, it is likely that Mrs White’s death would have been prevented.”

The Police response was inadequate in a number of respects, including:
• the initial response to the notification of Ms Morris’ escape;
• the lack of thorough questioning of the Henry Bennett Centre nurse during the first call; particularly in relation to known risk factors such as Ms Morris’ profound deafness, her current mental state and the exact details of the threat to kill;
• the dispatcher’s failure to advise the attending officers of the name of the person being threatened;
• the failure to notify the sergeant on duty and all units in the area about the threat;
• inadequate area enquiries by the attending officers and their failure to seek more information about the person under threat;
• the poor handling of the second call; including a lack of questioning on particular risk factors; and the recording of inaccurate and misleading information, which then led to the key failure to dispatch officers to apprehend Ms Morris; and
• the failure to consult a Duly Authorised Officer mental health professional.
Section 27 opinion and recommendations

Section 27(1) of the Independent Police Conduct Authority Act 1988 requires the Authority to form an opinion as to whether or not any act, omission, conduct, policy, practice or procedure the subject-matter of an investigation was contrary to law, unreasonable, unjustified, unfair or undesirable.

In this case, the Authority has formed the opinion that the failure of the attending officers to conduct more extensive enquiries at the time of the first house visit; and the communicator’s poor handling of the second call to Police were unreasonable and unjustified.

The Authority also formed the opinion that a number of matters were undesirable, including the inadequate handling of, and response to, the first call to Police and the later failure to clearly register as a priority that the location of Ms Morris was known and to dispatch officers at that point.

Police have advised that they have taken remedial action in connection with several staff involved.

Police have also taken action since this incident to improve relevant policy and training, as well as clarifying with the Ministry of Health each agency’s responsibilities when a mental health patient is reported missing.

The Authority supported the recommendations made in a Police review of their response to people with mental impairment and supports further training to all staff on relevant policy and legal powers.

The Authority also supports the continued roll-out of the Crime Reporting Line to all Police districts and recommended that this line be used for the notification of missing mental health patients.

Full Report
http://img.scoop.co.nz/media/pdfs/1302/2013_Feb_28_Death_of_Diane_White_embargoed.pdf
ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Half Empty: Dairy Prices Drop To Lowest Since August 2009

Dairy product prices fell to the lowest level in more than five years in the latest GlobalDairyTrade auction, led by declines in butter milk powder and whole milk powder.

”Stocks of dairy commodities are building across the globe due to Russia’s current ban on importing dairy products from many Western nations, and a lack of urgency from Chinese buyers, while at the same time global milk supplies are expanding,” AgriHQ dairy analyst Susan Kilsby said in a note. More>>

 

Slippage: NZ Universities Still In Top 3% Globally

This year the University of Auckland ranked 175 (down from 164 last year); the University of Otago ranked 251-275th (down from 226-250), both Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Canterbury held their ranks (at 276-300thand 301-350 respectively), while the University of Waikato dropped from 301-350 to 351-400. More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell:
On The Last Rites For The TPP

The Trans Pacific Partnership trade deal is one of those litmus issues that has always had more to do with one’s place on the political spectrum than with any imminent reality... For the TPP’s friends and foes alike though, the end now seems nigh. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Farcical Elevation Of David Seymour

With the election won, it’s time to find jobs for the boy. David Seymour is the Act Party’s latest scrounger to be rewarded by the National Party, and not only with a seat in Parliament. More>>

ALSO:

As Key Mulls Joining ISIS Fighting: McCully Speech To UN Backs Security Council Bid

It is an honour to address you today on behalf of the Prime Minister and Government of New Zealand. Our General Election took place last week - our Prime Minister Rt Hon John Key is engaged in forming a government and that is why he is unable to be here in New York... More>>

ALSO:

Labour: Cunliffe Triggers Party Wide Leadership Contest

David Cunliffe has resigned as Labour Leader, but says he will seek re-election... If there is any contest the election will have to go through a process involving the party membership and union affiliates. More>>

ALSO:

Flyover Appeal: Progress And Certainty, Or Confusion And More Delays?

Lindsay Shelton: The Transport Agency, embarrassed by the rejection of its flyover alongside the Basin Reserve, says it’s appealing because the decision could “constrain progress.” Yet for most clear-sighted Wellingtonians a 300-metre-long concrete structure above Kent and Cambridge Terraces would in no way be seen as progress… More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On Cunliffe’s Last Stand

Right now, embattled Labour leader David Cunliffe has three options. None of them are particularly attractive for him personally, or for the Labour Party... More>>

ALSO:

Key Seeking 'New Ideas': Look To Children’s Commissioner On Poverty - Greens

John Key should not reinvent the wheel when it comes to ideas for tackling child poverty, and instead look to the recommendations of the Children’s Commissioner’s Expert Group on Child Poverty, Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei says. More>>

ALSO:

Get More From Scoop

 

LATEST HEADLINES

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Politics
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news