Greater Manchester Police took more than eight hours to respond to an emergency call expressing concern for a woman with a history of mental health difficulties, an inquest heard.
Angeline Phillips, 35, was found dead at her home on Wilbraham Road in Walkden on January 30 2021.
The inquest in Bolton heard Angeline's friend Molly Winder had called Greater Manchester Police (GMP) at 6.09pm on 29 January 2021, and said she was concerned she had not heard from her friend for 24 hours and that Angeline had attempted suicide previously.The force ignored its own policy to dispatch an officer to the 'grade two' call within an hour and instead told an ambulance crew to attend almost two-and-a-half hours after the initial call, the hearing was told.Paramedics left the scene as there was no answer at Angeline's door, GMP dispatched an officer eight hours after the initial call.
An hour later, officers trained in forcing entry broke into the home and found her dead.Ms Phillips, who was diagnosed with a personality disorder, died of an overdose.
Known as Ange, she had been admitted to the hospital for reported overdoses 28 times in the three years before her death, and had been sectioned and discharged five times as part of a 'cycle' that could not be broken, the inquest heard. Forensic pathologist Dr Jane Robinson, who conducted a post-mortem examination, concluded Ms Phillips's death was caused by toxicity to two drugs.
The court heard the former is a strong pain killer which had not been prescribed to Angeline by her GP while the latter is not prescribed in the UK but is available to buy on the psychoactive drugs market.
Both drugs were found in quantities "consistent with recreational use or excess", according to a toxicological analysis.
The effect of consuming both at the same time "may be considerable", the pathologist said.Joseph Heaford, who investigated the police response for the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC), agreed with the coroner he had 'no issue' with GMP deciding the call was a 'grade two' emergency as there appeared to be no immediate threat to life which would require a grade one response.Mr Heaford, now a constable at GMP, agreed the force's response that night was at odds with its own policy for a grade two emergency.
He agreed the force should have dispatched an officer within an hour and should not have referred the case to North West Ambulance Service.The inquest heard that GMP had 11 logs on its system concerning Ms Phillips in the 12 days before she died, and all but one of them were reports of concern for her welfare.Mr Heaford said he found no evidence that GMP had contributed to the death as it was not possible to say when she died.The police investigation found Ms Phillips had made her last financial transaction, an Uber Eats purchase, at at 7.44pm on 28 January 2021.
The court heard she had also sent a 'confused' text that night, the inquest was told. Police found no evidence she was alive after the evening of 28 January.Prof Dr Alan Walsh, the coroner, criticised GMP's response. He said: "I'm concerned about action being taken that this does not happen again. That's my major concern and I'm sure that's the family's major concern."Dr Nisham Bhandari , a consultant psychiatrist who treated Ms Phillips, told the inquest she had been admitted to hospital following reported overdoses, sectioned under the Mental Health Act and the discharged on five occasions between July 2019 and her death.
On the last occasion, she was discharged to stay at a Premier Inn rather than at home.Consultant psychiatrist Catherine Symonds told the inquest she saw Ms Phillips at Royal Bolton Hospital following a reported overdose on 28 January.The court heard blood tests revealed the drugs she said she had consumed were not in the quantities she had suggested and she did not appear to be drowsy.
Ms Symonds said the patient informed her she had suffered physical and sexual abuse 'in the past' and that she had been raped on 20 January.But the patient did not want to discuss the alleged abuse and declined the offer of 'prescribable alternatives' to the drugs she had consumed.Ms Phillips told her she did not feel safe at the Premier Inn and would feel safer at home, the inquest was told.
The patient had told her she wanted 'to be dead' and appeared to be 'desperate and emotionally distraught', said Ms Symonds.But the doctor said she was aware Ms Phillips had presented to hospitals in similar circumstances 29 times since 2018 and that although she was at risk of an overdose, she did not believe any overdose would result in 'significant medical consequences.
Ms Phillips declined a voluntary admission to hospital and she was discharged.Coroner Prof Walsh said he was 'a bit surprised' that nobody from GMP had attended the inquest.
He said his office had been in touch with the force which had requested 28 days to respond to any criticisms.The coroner said he had had 'sufficient concerns' to consider penning a report about GMP's involvement but he wasn't prepared to give GMP that long.
The hearing was adjourned until 5 December.