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Report must not become a statistic - like my daughter.

The parents of a young woman police officer stabbed to death by a mentally ill man yesterday welcomed a report which blamed police, social services and doctors for her "preventable homicide".

Police, social services and the National Health Service were all criticised in a damning report into the killing of 25-year-old Pc Nina Mackay.

Her parents Sidney and Patricia called for a series of recommendations by the inquiry team to be implemented immediately to avoid the "loss of another precious life".

Paranoid schizophrenic Magdi Elgizouli was sent to top security hospital Rampton last year after pleading guilty to manslaughter with diminished responsibility. He had stabbed the police officer as she used a hydraulic enforcer ram to batter down the door of his flat in Stratford, East London, as part of a team sent to arrest him for jumping bail on October 24, 1997.

Tragically Pc Mackay removed her bulky protective vest moments before so that she could wield the enforcer arm to batter down the door. As she ran through the door of the flat, Elgizouli plunged a knife to the hilt into her chest.

She died in hospital two hours later.

Despite a history of violence and severe mental illness, Elgizouli had been granted bail ten days before the killing.

The independent inquiry, chaired by Mr Ken Dixon, criticised social services in London for not providing adequate housing and support for Elgizouli.

The inquiry also criticised health services which failed to pass on vital information about the severely mentally ill man to GPs when he moved from one London borough to another,

A "guardianship order" which required him to attend hospital for regular injections of medication was allowed to lapse without planning for future treatments.

And while accepting that police acted in "good faith", the report questioned why their Armed Territorial Support Group was sent to arrest the mentally ill man, without gaining information about his background and without the use of a family member or negotiator to persuade him to leave the flat without violence.

The report said: "We concluded that actions could have been taken which could have changed the course of events.

"The risk of harm to others was predictable. It is incumbent on each of the agencies involved to respond to our report on shortcomings we found in standards and service delivery and to take appropriate action."

The inquiry team has made a series of recommendations about the care and treatment of severely mentally ill people.

It calls for a document containing all information about mental patients to be set up and passed between different agencies and councils when a person moves.

It also recommends "national guidelines" to raise clinical standards and promote good practices for treatment of the mentally ill across the country.

Health officials were also criticised in the report for changes in Elgizouli's medication for schizophrenia which contributed to the "downward spiral" which ended in the killing of Pc Mackay.

He had initially received injections from his GP in a "personalised, non-stigmatising setting" and had established a good relationship with his doctor, the report found. But in 1997 his drug regime was changed to tablets which he was expected to take on his own.

His health rapidly deteriorated as he stopped taking the medication and when remanded in prison for violent offences he was not treated for his mental illness.

The report also criticised Westminster Council for not responding adequately to Elgizouli's needs. On two occasions when he was homeless he was housed in bed and breakfast accommodation.

Mr Sidney Mackay welcomed the report's findings and recommendations.

He said: "The first and most important thing to my mind is how was this man allowed to be where he was on that night, armed with a knife?

"We have the answer to that question in this report - community care and the lack of it which was on-going since 1994 and particularly in the last six months preceding my daughter's death.

"Some 43 of these reports have been presented to people across the UK in the last few years since community care was set up. I hope this report will not end up like my daughter - just another statistic."

Ms Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of mental health charity Sane, said: "All the warning signs for potential tragedy were there. Yet both the criminal justice system and mental health services allowed him to slip through the net."
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Author:Frith, Maxine
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Apr 20, 1999
Words:732
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