South East Wales

Sophie Taylor: South Wales Police 999 operator's failures in help call

Sophie Taylor Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Sophie Taylor called the police for help shortly before she died

A police call handler was dismissive of a woman who was being chased in her car by a "love rival", an investigation has found.

Sophie Taylor, 22, dialled 999 shortly before she died in a crash in Cardiff in August 2016.

She was being "hunted" by her ex-boyfriend Michael Wheeler and Melissa Pesticcio, who were jailed in May.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said the staff member had a case to answer for misconduct.

Image copyright South Wales Police
Image caption Pesticcio and Wheeler were jailed for causing death by dangerous driving

The pursuit began when Miss Taylor visited Wheeler's home to reclaim some money she had lent him.

The court heard Pesticcio and Wheeler drove separate cars as they chased Miss Taylor for three miles (4.8km).

She called the police to say she was being chased, before crashing her BMW into a block of flats in Adamsdown. Her passenger Joshua Deguara suffered life-changing injuries.

The IPCC investigation focused on the contact South Wales Police had with Miss Taylor on the night she died.

It was the lead investigator's opinion that the call handler failed to link appropriate people to the incident log, failed to include sufficient detail and displayed "apparent dismissiveness".

Image copyright South Wales Police
Image caption Police released CCTV footage of the car chase

South Wales Police agreed the call handler had a case to answer, however the staff member had resigned before they could be issued with a notice, meaning no disciplinary proceedings will take place.

IPCC operations manager Mel Evans said: "In the first 999 call on 22 August there were concerns about the manner in which the call handler dealt with the call which was described as dismissive and unprofessional.

"We did however conclude that the call grading given, that officers would contact Miss Taylor within 24 hours, was reasonable in the circumstances known at that time."

South Wales Police also agreed that two other officers will be given feedback and advised by their line managers after their performance was considered to be below the standards expected.

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