‘Tragic failure’: family of Leamington woman speak out after police failings

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The family of a Leamington woman whose calls for help to the police just before her death were not dealt with quickly enough have vowed to do what they can to prevent other vulnerable people from being let down.

Three control room staff from Warwickshire Police have received final written warnings after an investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) found they had failed to place the calls of Luisa Mendes in October 2012 as a priority.

Ms Mendes had told the control room staff that she had been assaulted, but no police officers attended the address from where she called in Briar Close, Lillington, until the next morning. and left after no one answered the door. Later that morning the ambulance service called the police to return to the address because Ms Mendes’ body had been found.

Ms Mendes’ call had been graded as a ‘priority’, which means police officers are required to attend within one hour.

The IPCC concluded that there was a failure by staff to prioritise the incident, and despite three controllers viewing the incident on ten occasions on the evening of Ms Mendes’ call, no officers were sent out.

The three controllers were given 12-month final warnings, while a control room inspector was subject to “management action”.

Speaking after the IPCC released its conclusion, Ms Mendes’ partner José Costa said: “It is such a tragic fail by Warwickshire Police and as a family, we will be taking action to prevent this happening to another vulnerable person.

“We will be pursuing Warwickshire Police for a formal apology and have instructed solicitors to review the report.”

Warwickshire’s Deputy Chief Constable Lewis Benjamin said the finding was “extremely disappointing”, adding: “We are now reviewing the hand-over procedures within our operations and communications centre.”

He said former Deputy Chief Constable Neil Brunton has personally apologised to Ms Mendes’ family.

The death of Ms Mendes, 44, was treated as unexplained.