Man 'angry and unable to grieve' after police's 'unacceptable' response to ex-partner's death

Ricki Gillatt and his friend's son, Ollie -Credit:Mark Giles
Ricki Gillatt and his friend's son, Ollie -Credit:Mark Giles

A man has accused South Yorkshire Police of "costing his ex-partner's life" after their actions to his disappearance were deemed "not acceptable”.

Mark Giles has been left “angry” and "unable to grieve" after he made phone calls and was passed between 101 and 111 during a frantic search for his ex-partner Ricki Gillatt. Tragically, four days after he was last seen, Ricki was found dead in his flat aged just 36 years old.

Mr Giles, who had been with Ricki for eight years, believes that police handled his calls to the emergency services incorrectly. When Mr Giles rang 101 and raised concerns for Ricki who was last seen on May 17, 2023, they told him to call 111 - despite the force having adopted a ‘Right Care, Right Person’ approach.

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The approach is designed to ensure that “people of all ages, who have health or social care needs, are responded to by the right person, with the right skills, training, and experience to best meet their needs”.

The policy states that the centre of its approach is “to assist police in making decisions about when it is appropriate for them to respond to incidents, including those which relate to people with mental health needs.”

Mr Giles, 55, who had previously worked as a police officer himself, contacted 101 on Saturday, May 20, to report Ricki missing after his family, who were banging on his front door, were unable to get a response from him - at which point, Ricki had not been seen for four days.

After waiting over an hour for a response from a 101 operator, Mr Giles was then advised to call 111 - this is despite the RCRP policy being implemented and him making the call operator aware of Ricki’s mental health problems. It was five hours after Mr Giles’ first call before anyone from South Yorkshire’s emergency services attended Ricki’s home.

Ricki Gillatt
Ricki Gillatt -Credit:Mark Giles

When they finally arrived at Ricki’s flat in Barnsley the 36-year-old, who had struggled with his mental health, was found dead on his sofa. Following an investigation into the handling of the call, prompted by two complaints which were filed by Mr Giles, South Yorkshire Police admitted that the call was not handled correctly and Ricki should have been reported as a missing person - although they do not believe that this would have changed the outcome for Ricki.

The police’s response to the complaint, sent on March 26 following a second investigation into the handling of the call, said: “Some information is missing from the report and from the call it is clear this should have been recorded as a missing person. Although this ultimately would not have changed the outcome, it should have nevertheless been dealt with instead of advising you to contact 111.

“Finding: The service provided by the police was not acceptable”.

Mr Giles, who had remained friends with Ricki since they separated in 2022 says he is still “angry” about what happened. He explained that he replaced his dining table with a desk and set up his own home office because he was sending so many emails and spending so much time putting in the complaint: “I’ve not even grieved properly yet because I’m still just angry about what happened,” he said.

“I know that what happened that day should have been dealt with completely differently, but because the police had this policy in place, and because the ambulance service weren’t implementing it, Ricki lost his life.

“The police shouldn’t be running this policy, and passing mental health cases over to the ambulance service if the ambulance service isn't running it.” Mr Giles believes the policy has “cost its first life”.

Ricki was found dead at his home in Barnsley on May 20 2023 -Credit:Mark Giles
Ricki was found dead at his home in Barnsley on May 20 2023 -Credit:Mark Giles

A spokesperson for South Yorkshire Police told YorkshireLive: “Right Care Right Person (RCRP) was introduced into South Yorkshire Police in March 2023, following a national implementation. This operating model is for police and partners, ensuring health calls for service, including mental health related calls, are responded to by those with the right skills and expertise to provide the best possible service.

“In South Yorkshire Police, we introduced RCRP in a phased approach, providing comprehensive internal training to our call handlers so they can better assess calls and understand what is needed for that individual. The safety of residents in South Yorkshire is our priority, ensuring everyone receives the right care and support that they need.

“Through the introduction of RCRP, partners were consulted through a working group, including local councils and the ambulance service. We have continued to engage with our partners at both a strategic and tactical level at each state of implementation.

“The force has received two complaints from Mr Giles. As per request of Mr Giles, these responses were referred to the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC). Regarding the first complaint, the IPOC concluded that the service level we provided was acceptable and therefore the outcome of the complaint was reasonable and proportionate.

“The second complaint response has been submitted to the IOPC and we are awaiting the outcome of their review. We would again like to express our ongoing sympathies to Mr Giles following the tragic loss of his ex-partner last year.”

Mr Giles explained that he has concerns that the ambulance service in Yorkshire isn’t working collaboratively alongside the police in order to ensure that the policy is implemented correctly - something which he believes may have made a difference in helping to save Ricki’s life.

A spokesperson for Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, added: “First and foremost, our thoughts are with the family and friends of Ricki Gillatt who sadly passed away in May last year.

“We understand the principles of the Right Care, Right Person approach being rolled out by police colleagues across the country. Effective partnership working is essential to the safe implementation of this programme, which has the provision of appropriate care at its heart, and we are working closely with other agencies, including the region’s police forces, to help achieve this.”

An IOPC review into the way South Yorkshire Police handled Mr Giles' call has been upheld in his favour. The inquest into Ricki’s death is yet to take place.

Mr Giles added: “Everyone knew Ricki struggled with his mental health but you could speak to any of his neighbours and they’d tell you that when he was going through his good times, he was one of the nicest people - he would bend over backwards to do things for people.

“He was loved by so many people.”

Mr Giles has since launched a petition to change the police policy on mental health welfare checks and missing, vulnerable people. So far, the petition has reached 1,010 signatures of the 1500 target. To find out more, click here.

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