Posts tagged ‘blame’

Watching a man slowly die…

This is an extract from an actual event in Ashford following which CCTV operators were arrested for manslaughter.

CCTV operators watched a homeless man die in toilets in Ashford but did nothing to summon help or medical aid, an inquest has been told.
Eric ‘The Viking’ Hughes was found dead outside the public loos in New Rents in November 2007.
He was spotted by police and concerned shopkeepers in the hours leading up to his death and CCTV crews were advised to monitor his condition.

Full article at the KENT NEWS website.

Now this brings some very interesting questions, in Smalltown we have people possibly collapsed/sleeping rough every day. We have a huge migrant population and a lot of these while away their lives drinking once they discover that the UK is not the land of milk and honey as previously thought. So what to do…

Lets put myself in the position of the operators on that fateful night in 2007. Eric apparently was a well known rough sleeper so wasn’t doing anything that he hadn’t done time and time before. Police discovered the man in the Toilets and asked CCTV to keep an eye on him, they did.

Later that night a concerned nightclub owner called up to report that he was still there and he was worried. CCTV being aware of him continue to watch.

Eric slowly dies of Hypothermia with alcohol complications. To the operator this would have looked like sleep.

Who was to blame, was it the Police for foisting the Duty of Care onto CCTV? Was it the nightclub owner for doing the same? Was it CCTV for not getting him checked again? I don’t think there is an answer but it is certainly frightening that in today’s blame culture I could be arrested for a serious crime simply because nobody else would take responsibility. Police could have checked that he was OK later in the evening. The club owner could have called an ambulance if his situation was that bad. Instead CCTV takes the blame, the fact that a CCTV camera is no replacement for going up and giving the guy a prod seems to have escaped attention. One thing that a CCTV operator often is, is helpless. Maybe if they had informed Police the outcome would have been different? If they had attended they may have established the true extant of his plight and got aid. Or they may have simply been too busy and he would have died anyway. One thing is for sure, they wouldn’t have arrested themselves.

I am now very careful when I see somebody “sleeping” if they don’t move then the Police get told, what they do is down to them but the buck is well and truly passed. I don’t like it but at least if the worst does happen the blame isn’t mine, and that’s just madness.

I guess what is most to blame is the mentality that it is always someone’s fault. Perhaps what really happened was that a lonely man died a lonely death. Surely its really best to grieve the loss and move on?

June 16, 2009 at 20:50 2 comments


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