A report has found that Northumbria Police had "too low a level of urgency" in dealing with a convicted killer who escaped from a psychiatric hospital in Newcastle.
Phillip Westwater, dubbed 'The Black Dog Strangler', escaped from St Nicholas Hospital in Gosforth on January 2nd and was missing for more than 12 hours before being found and returned to a secure ward. However, the public was only informed of the 44-year-old's disappearance ten hours after it happened.
Newcastle and Northumberland Health Trust has carried out an investigation into the police procedure surrounding his recapture but have not published the results of their inquiry.
Northumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird has also conducted inquiries and says police "didn't adequately risk assess" Westwater and that he was dealt with at "too low a level of urgency". She said:
In response to the review conducted by Vera Baird QC, Northumbria Police issued a statement saying the case "was not managed by Northumbria Police to the standard what we would expect".
Deputy Chief Constable Steve Ashman said:
It is understood that the review recommended that all police be trained in risk assessment to fully understand the distinction between voluntary psychiatric patients and those compulsorily committed to a psychiatric hospital by court order.