Thursday, February 13, 2014

How not to do something

Day after day I look through newspaper reports to see if there's something I fancy commenting on, I give my opinion and let the rest of you decide if I'm right or wrong. However occasionally something comes along which is breathtaking in its insensitivity. After all if a close one to you dies suddenly, you'd expect a degree of sensitivity from the police...
THOUGHTLESS police rang a woman on her mobile to break the news that her husband had died instead of telling her in person.
Ruth Williams, 31, was working at a pub near her home in Tremadog, north west Wales, when she got a missed call on her mobile phone on January 2nd.
When she called the number back and was told that her husband Dave, 35, had suffered a fatal asthma attack at a neighbour's house, she initially thought that someone was playing a sick joke on her.
She said an officer at the police station later apologised, but that no-one had explained why she was not told in person that the father of her two children had died.
She said that after she received the missed call at work on the day her husband died, she rang the number back and a man introduced himself as a police officer.
Mrs Williams said: "He asked me if I was with Dave, and I said to him, 'No, I'm at work and he's at home.'
"But then he said: 'Are you in a relationship still?'
"I said 'Of course, I'm his wife.'
"He then told me that Dave had died. I swore at him and threw the phone to my friend and work colleague who spoke to him. I thought it was a sick joke."
No doubt it's from the same group that trawls twitter and facebook for the crime of speaking your mind, but really this was utterly crass, occasionally people find out by accident a loved one has died, but you expect the police to at least turn up in person to confirm the details. And yes, it's quite possible to trace a mobile to a specific location, it's not like the police have never done it before.
No one likes to be the bearer of bad news, particularly if it involves a death in the family, but to do it by phone when they aren't that far away? Granted Australia I could perhaps understand, but then it's usually a relative, not the police.
North Wales Police ought to be ashamed of themselves, but somehow other than a mealy mouthed apology at a later date I doubt anything else will happen. It will be a classic case of 'lessons will be learned' until it happens again.

4 annotations:

Anonymous said...

I was a Police Officer and the one job I dreaded was telling someone that their relative,had died. Every time the reaction was different and you had to be prepared for anything.
The one reaction I was not prepared for, was a woman who on being told that her husband in hospital was not expected to last the night and was asking for her said, " I'm not turning out at this time of night, I might pop in tomorrow".

Michael said...

Was "Nobby Nobbs" involved? He of the "Bet you half a dollar you're the widow..." This is just so wrong on so many levels, what on earth were they thinking?

Dioclese said...

People get sacked by text, so I guess this was the next logical step...

Anonymous said...

Absolutely outrageous. As ex police I have had the unfortunate duty to carry out many of these tasks. You have to be there and help these people.Whoever authorised this text should be sacked.No compassion whatsoever. Absolute disgrace.