Non-confidential facts and advice to the Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime (DMPC)
1. Introduction and background
1.1. Nicola Edgington was convicted of manslaughter in 2006 for fatally stabbing her mother. She was sentenced to an indefinite hospital order and released with conditions in September 2009
1.2. Between 6th and 9th October 2011 Nicola Edgington made several calls to police. None of these calls resulted in police attendance.
1.3. On 10th October 2011 PC Payne and PC Phillips took Nicola Edgington voluntarily to A&E at Queen Elizabeth Hospital after she had tried to take a taxi to hospital, but had no money for the journey. They remained with her at the hospital for a short while, during which she left A&E reception on 2 occasions, the second time telling them she wanted a cigarette. The officers ultimately left her inside the reception area.
1.4. Nicola Edgington was taken from A&E by hospital staff to Oxleas House, a closed mental health facility. Following an initial assessment, and while waiting to be admitted, she absconded. This was approximately 2 and half hours after the police officers had left her.
1.5. She made her way to Bexleyheath town centre where she attacked one member of the public and fatally stabbed another, Sally Hodkin.
1.6. Nicola Edgington was convicted of murder and attempted murder and sentenced to 37 years in prison. The judge at her criminal trial rejected her plea of diminished responsibility due to mental illness. She unsuccessfully appealed against conviction and sentence.
1.7. The IPCC conducted an investigation into the police contact with Nicola Edgington prior to her fatally stabbing Sally Hodkin. They concluded in 2012 that no officer or police staff member had breached the police, or police staff, codes of conduct. However, the IPCC did conclude that PC Payne and PC Phillips could have used their powers under section 136 Mental Health Act 1983 to detain Nicola Edgington when she followed them outside from the A&E reception. It was also critical of the fact that neither PC Payne or PC Phillips nor the call handlers that spoke with her, conducted a PNC check which would have revealed her previous conviction for manslaughter.
1.8. NHS England commissioned Caring Solutions (UK) Ltd to undertake an independent investigation into the care and treatment provided to Nicola Edgington by Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust. Caring Solutions Ltd convened an expert panel. It is their report that was the subject of this judicial review. The Commissioner launched the judicial review because he takes the view the report is unlawful on public law grounds (procedurally unfair, biased and inaccurate on issues of law etc).
2. Issues for consideration
2.1. The Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime (DMPC) is asked to consider an application for financial assistance of £22,096 (including VAT) made by two serving police officers in respect of separate representation in a judicial review claim brought by the Commissioner against NHS England. The judicial review claim has now been settled.
2.2. For the DMPC to consider all the documentation before her and consider whether to do so is incidental or conducive to, or would facilitate the securing of an efficient and effective police force to fund officers in situations such as this.
2.3. If the DMPC is satisfied that she has the power to do so, she must next consider whether to grant the funding request, and the reasons for so doing.
3. Financial Comments
3.1. The solicitors acting for the officer applicants have submitted an estimate of the total costs of the separate representation in support of the application for financial assistance in the sum of £22,096 (including VAT).
3.2. The costs will be met from the 1996 Police Act Expenditure budget held within DLS.
4. Legal Comments
4.1. The DMPC has discretion under Section 3(6) and paragraph 7 (1) of Schedule 3 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 to fund police officers’ legal expenses in proceedings if she considers that funding the officers is incidental or conducive to, or would facilitate the securing of an efficient and effective police force..,. The DMPC has delegated authority, under paragraph 4.9 of the MOPAC Scheme of Delegation and Consent, to consider applications for financial assistance in certain circumstances.
4.2. In exercising her discretion as to whether to exercise her powers to provide financial assistance, the DMPC will need to take into account all relevant considerations conscientiously and with an open mind.
4.3. Home Office Circular 43/2001 provides guidance which applies to MOPAC. Para. 12 states “police officers must be confident that Police Authorities (now Police and Crime Commissioners) will provide financial support for officers in legal proceedings where they have acted in good faith and have exercised their judgement reasonably. Police Authorities will need to decide each case on its merits, but subject to that, there should be a strong presumption in favour of payment where these criteria are met”.
5. Equality Comments
5.1. There will be media and family/community interest in this case and the MPS cannot discount the inferences and potential for disquiet and distrust that can be brought about by any related activity such as stated above. Unless the community concerns associated with this case are managed effectively there is the potential for the family/community to distrust the police. To continue policing with the consent of the population it serves, the police will always seek to be open and transparent in the decisions we make.
6. Background/supporting papers
IPCC report: Sally Hodkin – investigation into the police contact with Nicola Caroline Edgington prior to her fatally stabbing Sally Hodkin