Independent Police Complaints Commission
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Failures identified in North Yorkshire Police’s search for a man found in a Scarborough lake

An Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation found evidence of errors in the actions of a North Yorkshire Police officer in searching for a man later found dead in Scarborough.

Gavin Egan, aged 34, was pulled from a lake in Peasholm Park by a dog-walker in the early hours of 24 February 2016. The dog-walker left the area to call emergency services but Mr Egan was not there when they arrived. He was found in the lake later that day.

The IPCC’s report has been published recently (3 February 2017) following a coroner’s inquest into the death of Mr Egan at Scarborough Town Hall.

The IPCC looked at the actions of the police prior to Mr Egan being discovered. In the investigator’s opinion, PC Hardie, who attended from North Yorkshire Police, had a case to answer for gross misconduct for not taking all reasonable steps to investigate the incident and not undertaking an effective search.

With regard to the actions of PC Hardie, the investigation found evidence that:

  • A four-minute search was carried out before PC Hardie left the area, she did not seek assistance and the incident log was closed soon after.
  • PC Hardie relied on incorrect information from the call log that Mr Egan had fled the area, despite a paramedic’s view that he would be incapable of such action because of freezing temperatures.
  • No enquiries were made with the dog-walker and PC Hardie reported to an inspector that there was no evidence a man had been pulled from the lake.

Although the IPCC investigator’s opinion was that PC Hardie had a case to answer for gross misconduct, the IPCC Commissioner subsequently agreed with North Yorkshire Police that the allegations amounted to misconduct and, following a meeting, PC Hardie was issued with a written warning.

The investigation also looked into a complaint about a delay by North Yorkshire Police in informing Mr Egan’s next of kin of his death but did not find evidence of misconduct by any individual officer. Organisational shortcomings were identified in how messages were passed between officers, resulting in an unnecessary delay. As a result the IPCC Commissioner recommended North Yorkshire Police guidance on the delivery of death messages should be reviewed, and this was accepted by the force.

The IPCC has also recommended that the force improves communication between the force control room and officers responding to incidents to help provide more detailed call logs.

IPCC Associate Commissioner Tom Milsom said: “This is, understandably, a very difficult time for Gavin’s family and my thoughts and sympathies are with them.

“The actions of the police constable fell short of the standard expected. Greater consideration should have been given to corroborate the information given to the police and a more effective search should have been undertaken.”

The full report can be viewed online.


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