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Police 'failed' victim of yobs

A vulnerable man who died after suffering years of torment by yobs was partly failed by senior police along with a string of other organisations, watchdogs have ruled.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) report said local police officers were dedicated in dealing with the problems of David Askew, 64, and his family, showing "real concern" and working when off duty to help tackle those responsible but that Greater Manchester Police's (GMP) overall handling of the problem identified "higher level systemic failures" within the force.

Mr Askew, who had learning difficulties, his brother and elderly mother, Rose, were plagued for years by yobs on the sprawling council estate in Hattersley, Tameside, calling police 88 times between January 2004 and March 2010, the IPCC report said.

Mr Askew, 64, collapsed and died on March 10 last year after an incident when youths had reportedly thrown a wheelie bin around and tampered with his mother's mobility scooter. He was later found to have died of natural causes.

The local authority, Tameside Council, local NHS services and the Contour Housing Trust, owners of the Askew family home, all came in for criticism, with all taking the "easier route" in regarding Mr Askew as "part of the problem" rather than tackling the perpetrators, the IPCC report said.

In September last year Kial Cottingham, 19, who lived doors away from the Askew family, pleaded guilty to harassing Mr Askew for cigarettes over a three-month period and was ordered to serve 16 weeks in a Young Offenders Institution. Cottingham was also questioned on suspicion of manslaughter but was cleared of any involvement in Mr Askew's death.

IPCC Commissioner Naseem Malik said: "The Askew family had experienced years of torment at the hands of local youths who targeted David in particular. It is fully acknowledged that since 2007 there was an escalation in efforts by the Neighbourhood Policing Team to assist the family.

"However, their hands were tied by organisational shortcomings and the failure to recognise that the matter needed a higher level strategic approach. They were left with a sticking-plaster solution when the matter needed extensive surgery."

Garry Shewan, Assistant Chief Constable of GMP said the force had now done a major review to improve how anti-social behaviour is dealt with and all vulnerable victims of anti-social behaviour are now brought to the attention of senior officers.

He also said reports of anti-social behaviour in the force area had fallen 14.2% in the past 12 months. "Tackling anti-social behaviour and giving people the support and protection they need is an absolute priority for Greater Manchester Police and we have put structures in place to try and stop what happened to the Askews from happening to anyone else," he added.

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