Police reassurance call after St Andrews murder

© DC Thomson
No officer was sent to Elizabeth Bowe's flat after her 999 call for help

Police Scotland will be asked to reassure Fife people in the wake of the murder of a grandmother in St Andrews.

Elizabeth Bowe had dialled 999 an hour and a half before she was found strangled by her brother, but no officer was sent to her home.

Police were criticised for their response to the call of a known vulnerable person, who reported that her brother had stolen her mobile phone and that she was in a domestic violence situation.

An emergency response was initially promised but then called off as it was decided no crime had been committed.

Councillor Tim Brett said the force had basically told her “stop wasting police time” and that the public needed confidence that calls were handled properly.

Fife Council’s north east Fife area committee agreed to invite Fife divisional commander Chief Superintendent Colin Gall to attend its next meeting in January to outline events before Ms Bowe’s death and mechanisms in place to prevent a similar tragedy.

The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner concluded Ms Bowe could have been saved had police attended promptly following her call for help.

Police Scotland said that since Ms Bowe’s murder by Charles Gordon in her Bobby Jones Place flat in September last year it had implemented recommendations made by PIRC and given risk and vulnerability training to more than 800 staff.

But Mr Brett said questions needed to be asked about how vulnerable people like Ms Bowe are identified and recorded and how many calls police get from such individuals, and the public needed to see that the case had been examined by Fife Council.

He said: “We need to understand the procedures the police have in place, particularly in relation to vulnerable people, and have reassurance these are reviewed regularly.”

His Liberal Democrat colleague, St Andrews councillor Dominic Nolan said: “It shakes a community when something so tragic happens.

“We on this committee have a duty to reach out and assure the public that we taking steps and are questioning the actions of the police.

“I don’t want this to be seen as an opportunity to bring the police in and give them a dressing down but rather to see how we can improve the systems in place so that when the public does call they are reassured and confident that they will be properly responded to and that, mostly importantly, they are safe and there is someone on the end of the phone who will take their concerns and their well being seriously.

“By bringing a senior officer in it can be seen by our constituents in north east Fife that we are concerned and that we are not willing to let such a tragic event go by and not seek appropriate action to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

A request for the case to be discussed at the council’s environment, protective services and community safety committee was refused by convener Councillor Ross Vettraino, who said there was nothing senior officers could tell them that was not already known.