The conclusions of the investigations that followed the death by suicide of a teenager in May 2020 are causing controversy in the United Kingdom as it appears that the emergency call-taker did not make use of advanced mapping technologies which could have saved the 17-year old boy’s life.
In May 2020, a teenager who lives in the South-East of England calls the emergency services to indicate that he is about to commit suicide and asks the police to come to “pick [him] up”. The caller refuses to disclose information about his location and the network-based information provided to the call-taker is not precise enough to send a patrol team. The boy is found dead six hours later in a park by early morning joggers.
Reports covering the death of the teenager suggest that an “enhanced mapping service” (probably Advanced Mobile Location) which could have located the caller “within a range of 10m. with 95% confidence” was rolled out in the police control room in late 2019. The control room staff was reported to be “unaware” of that technology and had not received any training on how to use it.
EENA is saddened to hear about this tragic death. It is also deeply concerning that call-takers were unaware and unbriefed on how to use advanced location technologies. AML has existed for 7 years and is now available in most European countries. Its capacity to save lives has been extensively demonstrated, as well as its low cost of implementation.
Despite it being mandatory by law, AML is still not deployed in 8 EU Member States (and many other countries outside of the EU). In many of the 19 Member States who have activated AML, the technology is not used in all the PSAPs. In light of this tragic event, EENA – once again – calls on all the relevant authorities to take all the necessary measures to urgently deploy the Advanced Mobile Location technology in all PSAPs. Once this technology is deployed, PSAPs should provide the necessary training to their call-takers on the existence of this technology and how to make use of it.
EENA remains at the disposal of any competent authority to help them deploy AML or share best practices on the use of the technology.
- BBC, 18 May 2021: “Kent Police staff ‘unaware of mapping system’ to trace teen”, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-kent-57161233 (consulted on 01 June 2021)
- BBC, 19 May 2021: “Matthew Mackell: Kent Police ‘missed opportunity’ to reach suicidal teen”, https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-kent-57174523 (consulted on 01 June 2021)
- KentLive, 19 May 2021: “17 actions police didn’t take that ‘could have saved Tunbridge Wells teenager Matthew Mackell’s life’”, https://www.kentlive.news/news/kent-news/17-actions-police-didnt-take-5430431 (consulted on 01 June 2021)