Friday, 27 February 2015

Police failed mother who killed herself and disabled daughter

Police are to face disciplinary action for failing to take ‘sufficient action’ to protect a woman who killed herself and her disabled daughter after years of abuse.

Fiona Pilkington, from Leicestershire, killed herself and 18-year-old Francecca Hardwick in October 2007 after suffering years of anti-social behaviour from youths.

Despite police receiving 33 complaints over 10 years, the Independent Police Complaints Commission discovered no ASBOs were ever applied for and information was not properly shared with partners such as the council and housing associations.

Police also failed to highlight the family as vulnerable and often closed reports ‘without any record of action having been taken, and without any supervising officer checking matters had been dealt with satisfactorily.’

Warning letters were sent to the troublemakers and acceptable behaviour contracts issued but action was not co-ordinated between police and Hinckley and Bosworth Council, the report said.

Weekly Information Sharing and Tasking Forums were organised with police and partners to discuss problem families and anti social behaviour issues and put in place action plans to deal with those causing the problems.

According to the report, families of the youths who were targeting Ms Pilkington and her family all lived in social housing and were regularly highlighted as troublemakers.

Despite numerous officers being aware of Ms Pilkington and her family’s complaints, their case was never highlighted.

IPCC Commissioner Amerdeep Somal said: ‘I struggle to see what more Fiona could have done. She did all the right things. She informed the police and other agencies involved with her family of the on-going problems.

‘She did as she was told and she even kept a diary and records of the incidents. She was not alone in drawing her family’s plight to police attention.’

Two Pcs, one sergeant and one inspector will now face misconduct hearings.

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Readers' comments (9)

  • I dont hold out much hope for these police officers to be disciplined and sanctioned as they should be. Yet the ery fact that they are facing prosecution and the Police has admitted it 'failed to highlight the family as vulnerable and often closed reports ‘without any record of action having been taken, and without any supervising officer checking matters had been dealt with satisfactorily... emphasises the point i make repeatedly that police do fail social tenants.

    A few people on this site recite as a mantra that social landlords killed Fiona Pilkington and the fact that police officers are being prosecuted over their neglect of their main duty owed to her helps to dispel that nonsense

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  • Arthur Brown

    This report by the IPCC just adds to the very poor picture painted of the Leicestershire Constabulary. Following on from the other high profile murder cases reported recently where the Leicestershire police had failed to attend requests for help from the victims, their inability to find a motorist in a crashed car by the side of a main (he was found dead some days later), the TV documentary about the Leicestershire cops playing panda car hide & seek, the closure of their police social club due to drunkeness & sexual misdemeanours etc.

    This force needs more than just four officers facing misconduct proceedings, it needs a full root & branch review with sackings & prosecutions. If we ran our housing operations so badly and with such arrogance, we would be sacked. Without wishing to make a pun - they are a law unto themselves!

    At the end of the day us Leicestershire residents are paying for this police service and some of us are ending up dead due its poor performance.

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  • Jack.

    an interesting extract from the report:

    "It should be noted the youths identified as responsible for the anti social behaviour suffered by Fiona Pilkington were living in local authority or housing association properties, but Fiona Pilkington was an owner occupier."

    so the police aren't failing a social tenant in this case....

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  • Chris

    Jack is not only right but consistently right in this matter.

    It confirms what is often said but rarely listened to. ASB is a crime, and crimes must be dealt with by the appropriate authority. Tenancy management of tenancy issues also is required, but where criminal law has been broken then the Police must take a lead.

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  • Social Landlords as part of their contract offer tenants, Quiet Enjoyment. In this context, social landlords do have a duty to take every measure to ensure this. The tenancy terms are quite clear re: nuisance of any type. Where this falls down for social landlords is a combination of their own inefficiency, reluctant witnesses and the knowledge that Court is costly and very rarely rules in their favour and that legal eviction action can be counter –productive especially with what some refer to as needs based letting – i.e. bung the baby back on the counter and got to be re-housed again;

    Social Housing staff are often placed in a very unsavoury set of circumstances when having to deal with some of the tenant types they encounter;

    The best way forward is coherent inter-agency work;

    I understand from posts here that Fiona Pilkington owner occupied. It would be very interesting to know what prioritisation a social landlord would give re: a tenancy like Family Pilkington applying for transfer................

    Too much emphasis is placed on supporting the perpetrators of ASB – if they are minors, supposedly under control of their parents at the time, then eviction should be swift. Let them go and live in some type of state provided dorm with similar types. Afterall, it is not the housing officer, the police or any other agency that got them evicted but their own Anti-Social Behaviour – consequences and all that.

    Years ago, council / social landlord tenancies were held in highest regard, there was no way a parent would be allowing their offspring to jeopardise the tenancy in any way or terrorise the neighbourhood yet lame legal system and re-housing prioritisation for sometimes dreadful families almost eradicates the tenancy value.

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  • Bill - You are correct and Fiona Pilkington was an owner occupier. What this doesnt change of course is the fact that the Police failed in their duties to lead on their duties and largely it would seem is because the perps were social tenants or children of. In simple terms they left this to social housing landlords to deal with.

    That is the rub and unfortunately all too typical right across the country.

    I admit I havent read the report and dont know if her daughter (by virtue of her disability) had any other involvement from social services - who again tend to pass the buck and deflect their mandatory duties all because social landlords were stupid enough to get involved in asb and let - to some extent - others palm them off with being 'responsible' for crime wrapped up in the semantics of asb.

    The issues here are forms of assault which is criminal and not and shouldnt be termed as 'asb' or some other nonsense and convenient term. It is crime plain and simple.

    Bill - the Police arent failing a social tenant you say - No they are failing all of them by passing the buck! Its time they got their negligent finger out!!

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  • Jack

    I agree with what you say. ASB should never have been the remit of landlords - it is a police duty.

    The reason i highlighted the tenure was the barrage of posters on this site when this story first broke berrating landlords for "failing" to protect their tenant - there was no tenant to protect and in any event, as we agree, this should have been dealt with by the police.

    The report does not mention specific support services, but having recognised severe learning difficulties one can imagine their involvement somewhere along the line - it saddens me that all agencies involved simply seemed to care more about clearing their case loads rather than actually supporting a vulnerable person - irregardless of their tenure.

    could the landlord have done more? possibly - they could have taken action against their tenants.

    should the police have done more? definitely - they should have taken criminal action against those responsible.

    what i hope this makes clear is two things.

    1) social landlords were not to blame here - so i hope all the previousl posters will humbly accept they were wrong.

    2) the police failure was unacceptable - but caused by ASB being rammed into the remit of landlords - crime is crime is a police matter. end. of. story.

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  • Whilst I agree a social landlord may not have been responsible here, I have experience of a social landlord who was quite happy to look the other way to complaints of ASB, and that landlord is one of the largest and richest in the country. I would also question where ASB tenants come from if the ASB problems began shortly after a new tenant was dumped, sorry placed, there because he/she was a problem elsewhere.
    It does happen and these new problem ASB tenants have the protection of the landlord/local authority/state like it is some form of social responsibility exercise placed upon decent tenants and tenants least able to deal with such types. The one thing you can definately say about ASB tenants is that they are usually well known to all the authorities who have a responsibility for protecting everybody, most importantly the decent majority above the nasty minority.

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  • Ivana Hart

    This all comes down to needs based letting again, I'm sorry to say, as WW spotted. In the bestselling book Freakonomics, Levitt and Dubner correctly identify the link between the legalisation of abortion and the massive fall in crime rates in the States. Because criminals were simply not being born to commit crime in the first place. Needs based letting and breeding for benefits produces criminals as the offspring as used by the feckless as a means to access free housing and money. Under pre 77 merit based letting, you didn't get the prize of a council tenancy unless you were employed and married (if kids were present). The legion of Vicky Pollards who plague the council estates of the country are a direct product of needs based letting and inevitable system gaming and race to the bottom that this attracts. It can be argued that in a merit based allocation system (and assuming a clampdown on the handing out of free money in direct proportion to the number offspring from multiple babyfathers produced) then this entire affair would never have happened. Because these vile kids simply would not have been born in the first place. As there would have been no perverse incentive to breed them....

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