Blind man told to dial 999 himself, Seaton

PUBLISHED: 10:51 28 April 2010 | UPDATED: 01:11 16 June 2010

A BLIND Seaton man who had an intruder on his premises and pressed his home alarm was told to call the police himself.

A BLIND Seaton man who had an intruder on his premises and pressed his home alarm was told to call the police himself.

John Barrington-Rowell reported the incident in the early hours of the morning, only to be told by a Home Safeguard operator that it was not in their 'remit' to dial 999.

Mr Barrington-Rowell, who lives in the warden controlled area in Mead Way, was shocked - and fears such behaviour could endanger vulnerable people.

East Devon District Council, which runs the system, said its operator had been correct to follow this procedure.

Mr Barrington-Rowell said: "I pressed the alarm and was told to ring the police myself. She told me she didn't have enough information on me to put the call through.

"She actually heard the intruder at the front door as well. It would have saved me time by ringing. I rang my friends, who all arrived at the same time - but by then, the intruder was gone.

"This isn't just about me. Somebody more vulnerable could have been affected by it."

He said he had been disturbed by a man ringing his intercom several times asking for a taxi. He asked him to leave - warning that he would press his alarm otherwise.

He added: "I'm shocked this happened and they [Home Safeguard] didn't tell me what their remit was and what the alarm system was for."

Home Safeguard is East Devon District Council's emergency alarm system for frail and vulnerable people. Those connected to the system can expect to get help quickly though the 24-hour alarm.

The operator is said to be trained to quickly establish what help is needed and can stay on the line until help arrives.

An EDDC spokesman said it was standard procedure to ask a caller to dial 999 because it saved time by giving the police information directly.

He said: "We feel that our operator was correct in advising this client to contact the police when an unknown person knocked at his door in the early hours of the morning.

"Our operators are manning the telephones for all our clients and do not have the ability to visit customers. On this occasion, the operator checked that Mr Barrington-Rowell was able to telephone the police, and left the line open to ensure that he made successful contact."

He added that the Home Safeguard manager had spoken to the police, who confirmed people should contact them directly.


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