A STRING of failings at Police Scotland call centres have been exposed in the wake of an “ignored” report which may have prevented a murder – as it emerged more than one case every two days is being mishandled.

An estimated 200 botched calls have been flagged up in police reports over the past year, including one in which a suicidal man told to hang up by call handlers and a woman who had to phone three times to report a dead body in her home.

It was revealed this week police could have prevented Elizabeth Bowe's woman’s murder by her brother, Charles Gordon, in St Andrews, Fife, if they had responded to her 999 call.

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The 50-year-old died almost 90 minutes after she reported an incident of domestic violence in a phone call to police.

At Holyrood, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson asked Nicola Sturgeon at First Minister's Questions: “The question people are asking is this – how many more times will a call for help go unheeded before the situation in our emergency control rooms is sorted out?”

Herald View: Minister must act on emergency call handling failures

The Tories' listed a string of incidents where calls had allegedly been mishandled since November 2016, after the party received details under Freedom of Information (FoI).


Ms Sturgeon said nothing could detract from their 'serious and unacceptable' nature, but attempted to put the numbers into context, pointing out Police Scotland handled 2.6 million calls every year.

She added: “Significant improvements have been made and will continue to be made, and all lessons required to be learned absolutely will be learned.”

Herald View: Minister must act on emergency call handling failures

Many of the incidents occurred in the months after a progress report into police call handling was in January. It followed the deaths of two young people, who were left in their wrecked car for three days in July 2015.

Lamara Bell and John Yuill died following the accident on the M9 near Bannockburn. A 999 handler had failed to pass on a report from a member of the public of the Renault Clio they were in after it had crashed down an embankment.


Among the cases among the tranche revealed by the Tories' FoI is that of a suicidal man – who also threatened to kill others. He was told by a call handler to hang up after the man lost his patience, telling her to shut p, when he was repeatedly asked for his name.

The male dually [sic] did and his address was neither asked for nor offered.”

Elsewhere, a woman phoned 999 three times to report a dead body in her home, due to separate handlers missing the key detail.

Herald View: Minister must act on emergency call handling failures

There was a failure to send officers to an address after a man had reported his partner’s door was being kicked in by men.

The wrong address was used by police in a domestic incident and also in another case, where a call was received of a woman and her niece being assaulted.


Ms Davidson said concerns over the centralisation of Scotland’s police force and its impact on control rooms had been raised “time and time again”, adding: “The public has a right to expect better.”

She said: “This isn’t an issue that has been resolved. It is still ongoing.

Herald View: Minister must act on emergency call handling failures

Assistant Chief Constable Nelson Telfer said more than two million emergency and non-emergency calls were fielded by the single force with "99.9 per cent of these handled at the first point of contact without incident" from November 2016 to August.