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Police probe urged after Scottish crash couple left in wreckage for three days after incident reported

'Lamara was in a field for three days after the accident. The call was ignored by the incident room'

By Hilary Duncanson

Published 11/07/2015

John Yuill and Lamara Bell
John Yuill and Lamara Bell

The case for a wider inquiry into the operation of Scotland's single police force is "becoming unanswerable" in light of the case of the couple left in the wreckage of their car for three days after the crash was reported, according to the Scottish Lib Dem leader.

Willie Rennie also questioned the assertion from Scotland's Chief Constable Sir Stephen House that the incident centred around an "individual failure" in the service.

The MSP said workload pressure on the police service has been "immense" since the reorganisation of the service into a single force over two years ago - a move which he said included the centralisation of police control rooms.

Lamara Bell, 25, was seriously injured and her boyfriend, John Yuill, 28, died in the crash at the M9 slip road at Bannockburn, near Stirling, which was reported to police on Sunday but not followed up for 72 hours.

Ms Bell’s father Ossie Dinnefash wrote on Facebook: "Lamara was in a field for three days after the accident. She was on her way home.

"Because of some nice guy that phoned it in and was ignored by the incident room the messages were never passed on.

"Now my daughter is laying on life support. All I can ask from everybody is help tonight, tell her to wake up.

"Sorry as I write this I am crying my eyes out. Please make her wake up."

Sir Stephen yesterday said that he had apologised to both families.

In a statement, he said: "I want to apologise to the families of John Yuill and Lamara Bell and to the people of Scotland for this individual failure in our service. Everyone in Police Scotland feels this most profoundly.''

Police officers search the scene at Junction 9 of the M9
Police officers search the scene at Junction 9 of the M9
A police car sits near to Junction 9 of the M9 after car was discovered
Police officers search the scene at Junction 9 of the M9 after car was discovered
Police officers search the scene at Junction 9 of the M9 after a car was discovered

The Chief Constable added: "That we failed both families involved is without doubt."

The Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) has begun an investigation into the circumstances of the incident.

Mr Rennie, a Mid Scotland and Fife MSP, earlier wrote to Scottish Justice Secretary Michael Matheson to ask him to reconsider launching a wider independent inquiry into why police failed to respond to the crash for three days.

Speaking today, in the wake of Sir Stephen's comments, Mr Rennie said: "It would be wrong to leap to the conclusion that this was an 'individual failure' by an individual member of staff.

"There is growing evidence that the reorganisation of the police service, including the centralisation of the police control rooms, has led to other failures.

"As a result of the changes, workload pressure on the police service is immense. So it is important that the wider issues are looked at rather than focussing only on any mistakes made by the control room operator concerned. We cannot get true answers about this case without understanding the wider problems that exist in the service.

"The case for a fully independent review into Police Scotland is becoming unanswerable because the public want an assurance that the wider issues will be investigated. I am asking the Justice Secretary to consider this again.

"The family, public and police want answers so it important that we seek to provide them in an independent and transparent manner."

A Scottish Government spokesman said: "An independent investigation into the incident is now being undertaken by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) under the direction of the Crown and Police Scotland are fully engaged with this process.

"It would be inappropriate to comment further until the PIRC investigation has concluded and the facts around the incident have been properly established."

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