Sergeant Says Police ‘Let Residents Down’ Over St Martin’s Incident

The Seven Stones Inn on St Martin's

The head of the islands’ police force says his organisation “let the residents of St Martin down” over an incident in which police officers took nearly three hours to respond to a 999 call (see here).

But Sergeant Charlie Craig says he has investigated what went wrong and addressed the problems.

The incident occurred on Monday 6th June, when two workers employed by St Martin’s Hotel were allegedly involved in a drunken disturbance at the Sevenstones Inn.

The landlord of the pub, Toby Tobin Dougan, claims he rang 999 twice, the first time at 9.10pm and again later in the evening, following the return of the alleged offenders, but officers didn’t arrive until 11.50pm, after what appeared to be a problem with permission to use the ambulance boat to reach the island.

Charlie told us the initial call was answered by the main police control room in Devon. As the offenders were reported to have left the scene of the disturbance, the control room reduced the emergency level of the call which means local officers were not informed of the incident for a further 38 minutes.

Charlie says that, while this is normal mainland procedure, it doesn’t work in an island setting, where the offenders may still be in the vicinity of the incident.

The problem was made worse by the mix up in despatching the ambulance boat, which is authorised for police use in an emergency.

Charlie said there was confusion in both the police and ambulance control rooms on the mainland. PC Mat Collier who was handling the incident was told to ring 999 by the police control room because they thought he wanted a normal ambulance, not a boat.

And the Ambulance Service, who authorise the use of the ambulance boat for police use, wouldn’t allow it’s use as the controller was unaware of the shared use agreement.

In the end, the islands’ ambulance boss Tony Smith was forced to intervene and ensure the vessel was dispatched.

Charlie says he has discussed the problems with the two control rooms and they are now aware of the special procedures for Scilly.

Charlie also said that, even though there was a delay in reaching St Martin’s, PC Collier was in contact with the pub about the situation and was told the men had left the scene.

He wanted to reassure residents that the police take every effort to attend emergencies as quickly as possible and reiterated that they should call 999 in an emergency and the incident will be routed to the local officers.

However, Toby told us he is “appalled” by the time it took police to arrive and feels upset that the men haven’t been charged over the incident. He said he’s had “considerable communication” with MP Andrew George and the Chief Constable of Devon and Cornwall, Stephen Otter, over the matter.

And he said he hopes this incident “will lead to a more professional approach by the Police to communicate, empathise and help to protect our people in this community.”

A man has since been issued with a fixed penalty notice over the incident at the pub.


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