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Essex Police investigation into management of North Essex Partnership University Trust concludes

Essex Police investigation into management of North Essex Partnership University Trust concludes
AN Essex Police investigation into the management of the North Essex Partnership University Trust (now known as the Essex Partnership University Trust or EPUT) following the death of a number of patients has now concluded.

Essex Police has taken the decision that a case for corporate manslaughter has not been made out and we will be taking no further action.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation, which has run parallel with ours, will now take primacy. We will ensure all evidence and documentation obtained during this investigation continues to be made available to the HSE. 

Our investigation, led by detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, began in January 2017.

During that time our officers carried out detailed enquiries, spoke to a number of individuals and gathered and  examined a large amount of material from a variety of sources such as HM Coroner’s Office, EPUT, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the relatives of those patients concerned and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

In addition to this work the case was subject to a peer review by the heads of serious and major crime for the eastern region.

The aim of the enquiry was to investigate whether the Trust had committed criminal offences of corporate manslaughter.

As the Corporate Manslaughter Act only came into effect in 2007 and was enacted in April 2008, it meant we were only able to consider deaths which occurred after April 2008. We did however explore the circumstances of a wider number of deaths to form a broader picture to assist our investigation.

Following a full investigation into the circumstances into those deaths, the evidential threshold has not been met to proceed to a charge for corporate manslaughter or to refer the matter to the CPS for a charging decision.

We have liaised with specialist lawyers at the Crown Prosecution Service throughout this investigation.

In addition, we instructed an independent barrister to review our investigation and our subsequent decision and they also agreed with our finding.

Our investigation found clear and basic failings in the care of those vulnerable adults whose cases we considered as part of the investigation.

However, in line with the scope of the legislation, we found insufficient evidence to suggest a consistent pattern of senior management failings caused the death of the patients.

Further, there is insufficient evidence to indicate that the way in which the Trust was managed amounted to a gross breach of the duty of care owed to patients.

Senior investigating officer Temporary Det Supt Stephen Jennings, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “This has been a lengthy and complex investigation during which we have liaised with healthcare and criminal justice partners and examined a wealth of information and evidence.

“Our investigation found a number of areas of concern about the way in which the North Essex Partnership University Trust historically managed the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable adults in the cases we examined during the period falling within the scope of the investigation and involving nine establishments.

“As part of our investigation we identified clear and basic failings which in our opinion should have been easily overcome, these however did not meet the evidential threshold to proceed for a charge of manslaughter.”

Areas of concern identified by Essex Police include: policies in relation to searching, leave and observations; care plans and packages; communication between staff and families; the accessibility of information regarding patients; the appointment of appropriate staff.

A report of our full findings will be made available at the conclusion of the Health and Safety Investigation.
Temporary Det Supt Jennings added: “We would like to acknowledge the support, patience and co-operation of all of the families concerned in this investigation.

“We fully understand it has been an extremely difficult time for them and we know our decision will not be the news they wanted to hear.

“But I want to assure them that my team carried out a thorough and extensive investigation and, whilst we have not been able to meet the evidential threshold to bring charges for corporate manslaughter, we will continue to assist our HSE colleagues in their continued investigation into the management of ligature risks.”

AN Essex Police investigation into the management of the North Essex Partnership University Trust (now known as the Essex Partnership University Trust or EPUT) following the death of a number of patients has now concluded.

Essex Police has taken the decision that a case for corporate manslaughter has not been made out and we will be taking no further action.

A Health and Safety Executive (HSE) investigation, which has run parallel with ours, will now take primacy. We will ensure all evidence and documentation obtained during this investigation continues to be made available to the HSE. 
Our investigation, led by detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, began in January 2017.

During that time our officers carried out detailed enquiries, spoke to a number of individuals and gathered and  examined a large amount of material from a variety of sources such as HM Coroner’s Office, EPUT, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), the relatives of those patients concerned and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

In addition to this work the case was subject to a peer review by the heads of serious and major crime for the eastern region.

The aim of the enquiry was to investigate whether the Trust had committed criminal offences of corporate manslaughter.

As the Corporate Manslaughter Act only came into effect in 2007 and was enacted in April 2008, it meant we were only able to consider deaths which occurred after April 2008. We did however explore the circumstances of a wider number of deaths to form a broader picture to assist our investigation.

Following a full investigation into the circumstances into those deaths, the evidential threshold has not been met to proceed to a charge for corporate manslaughter or to refer the matter to the CPS for a charging decision.
We have liaised with specialist lawyers at the Crown Prosecution Service throughout this investigation.

In addition, we instructed an independent barrister to review our investigation and our subsequent decision and they also agreed with our finding.

Our investigation found clear and basic failings in the care of those vulnerable adults whose cases we considered as part of the investigation.

However, in line with the scope of the legislation, we found insufficient evidence to suggest a consistent pattern of senior management failings caused the death of the patients.

Further, there is insufficient evidence to indicate that the way in which the Trust was managed amounted to a gross breach of the duty of care owed to patients.

Senior investigating officer Temporary Det Supt Stephen Jennings, of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate, said: “This has been a lengthy and complex investigation during which we have liaised with healthcare and criminal justice partners and examined a wealth of information and evidence.

“Our investigation found a number of areas of concern about the way in which the North Essex Partnership University Trust historically managed the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable adults in the cases we examined during the period falling within the scope of the investigation and involving nine establishments.

“As part of our investigation we identified clear and basic failings which in our opinion should have been easily overcome, these however did not meet the evidential threshold to proceed for a charge of manslaughter.”

Areas of concern identified by Essex Police include: policies in relation to searching, leave and observations; care plans and packages; communication between staff and families; the accessibility of information regarding patients; the appointment of appropriate staff.

A report of our full findings will be made available at the conclusion of the Health and Safety Investigation.
Temporary Det Supt Jennings added: “We would like to acknowledge the support, patience and co-operation of all of the families concerned in this investigation.

“We fully understand it has been an extremely difficult time for them and we know our decision will not be the news they wanted to hear.

“But I want to assure them that my team carried out a thorough and extensive investigation and, whilst we have not been able to meet the evidential threshold to bring charges for corporate manslaughter, we will continue to assist our HSE colleagues in their continued investigation into the management of ligature risks.”
 

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