Beevers v Greater Manchester Police
In a judgment handed down on 31 October 2016 at the Manchester County Court, Mr Recorder Berkley QC found, as a preliminary issue, the Greater Manchester Police owed Georgina Beevers a duty of care following significant delays in responding to a 999 call. Ms Beevers was reported to have threatened to take her own life, following a family dispute. Her mother had called 999 and had been assured by the operator in the police control centre that officers would be dispatched promptly and the call was categorised as urgent. Despite this assurance the call was subsequently re-categorised and as a result there was a substantial delay in officers attending Ms Beevers’s home. Further when officers did attend at Ms Beevers’s home they were unaware that she had been reported as being at risk of taking her own life and consequently when they received no answer they left. It was not until officers re-attended the next morning that Ms Beevers was discovered to have tragically died as a result of an overdose. The IPCC report noted a catalogue of errors and misjudgements on the part of the Greater Manchester Police and the Coroner, following the inquest into Ms Beevers’s death, issued a report to the Chief Constable.
The Learned Recorder determined as a preliminary issue that in the circumstances of Ms Beevers’s case the Greater Manchester Police had assumed responsibility for her welfare by way of the assurances that had been given to her mother and therefore owed her a duty of care. This finding is set against a background of a number of appellant decisions where claimants have unsuccessfully pursued police forces for failures to protect members of the public and what has been a significant and longstanding limitation on the liability of the police in respect of such failures. The importance of this case is not that the Learned Recorder sought to extend the law, he specifically stated that was not his intention, rather that with the right set of facts and a determination on the part of the claimant to hold a police force to account, the substantial barriers to establishing a duty of care can be overcome.
The claim continues.
Iain Daniels was instructed by Attwaters Jameson Hill Solicitors on behalf of the Claimant