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Suicide – Is it a Coroners responsibility to investigate?

wiltshire police headquarters

When a person has committed suicide, should a coroner investigate what drove him to do so?

Suicide of David Ainsworth raises concerns in police policies

At the recent inquest of the Deputy Chief Constable of Wiltshire, Stewart Patterson, representing his partner and his father , challenged the Coroner’s decision excluding from the hearing any investigation into why he might have committed suicide. The deceased has been the subject of an inquiry into his conduct by another police force.

Review of Wiltshire deputy chief constable’s suicide calls for whistle-blowing policy

Deputy Chief Constable David AinsworthIn this article from the Swindon Advertiser The paper makes the point on how there should be a dedicated policy on whistle blowing:
” A dedicated whistle-blowing policy should be brought into the police service following the death of a senior officer under investigation over claims he sexually harassed women colleagues, a review has found.

David Ainsworth, 49, deputy chief constable of Wiltshire Police, hanged himself in his garage in March last year fearing he would “lose everything” and believing his family would be better off without him if he took his own life.

Lessons must be learned from the “deeply tragic circumstances”, a whistle-blowing policy should be brought in and force vetting procedures should be reviewed, a report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) found.

A “dedicated ‘whistle-blowing’ policy that allows issues to be reviewed in a timely and transparent manner, promoting trust and confidence in the organisation” could help “embed equality and diversity into the core of the organisation and its culture”, the report said.

Force vetting procedures should also be reviewed, in particular those policies for chief officers and how they are applied.

“The level of vetting required is determined by the nature of the role and the level of restricted information that is regularly accessed, not the rank of the officer. It should be completed on appointment to a new role that requires a different level of vetting, or at the regular review periods set out in vetting arrangements,” the report said.

“There were apparent failures in the operation of the vetting system in Mr Ainsworth’s case. As a result of inaction on the part of both Mr Ainsworth and Wiltshire Police, this remained unresolved at the time of Mr Ainsworth’s death, a period of 18 months…”

The family of David Ainsworth are left unsatisfied

The family felt that the way in which the police had carried out the inquiry had brought about a state of mind leading to his suicide. They felt unsatisfied that this could not be explored at the inquest. Should an inquest into a person’s death when he has committed suicide go into what drove him into state of mind to do so?



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