Cabinet received a report from the Cabinet Member for Resources, the purpose of which was for it to consider a Regulation 28 report submitted by the Coroner and to agree any appropriate action to be taken.
On 30 July 2014, the Coroner issued a Regulation 28 report in respect of a suicide by jumping from one of the Queensgate car parks. Under the Coroners’ Regulations 2013, a coroner has both the power and a duty to raise concerns where the coroner considers that actions could be taken to prevent future deaths.
A Regulation 28 report was addressed to the organisations the coroner believed could take action to prevent further deaths and such organisations had a duty to respond to the Regulation 28 report giving details of action taken or proposed to be taken, with a timetable for action. Alternatively, the organisation(s) were to explain why no action would be taken.
Councillor Seaton introduced the report and highlighted the main issues contained within. The Council’s Assistant Director for Education, Resources and Corporate Property added further points of clarification.
Cabinet considered the report and RESOLVED:
1. To note the content of the Senior Coroner’s report dated 30th July 2014 titled “Regulation 28: Report to Prevent Future Deaths” received by the Council;
2. To consider how the findings of the Senior Coroner’s Regulation 28 : Report to Prevent Future Deaths relate to the Council owned Multi Storey Car Park known as Northminster Car Park, Peterborough (Northminster MSCP).
3. To note that the Council is aware that Peterborough has a higher suicide rate than the England average and is committed to taking action to address this through the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Suicide Prevention Strategy and the Stop Suicide Pledge.
4. To note that the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Suicide Prevention Strategy Three Year Action Plan includes a recommendation to reduce the risk of suicide from multi-storey car parks through a multi-faceted approach including suicide awareness training for car park staff, signage to direct people to sources of support and promotion of the use of barriers to restrict access to jumping points.
5. To consider the budget implications of undertaking the works set out in feasibility study to install infill panels and fencing on the upper car park deck, the budget implications and the proposed review processes to determine future decision making.
6. To confirm that the Head of Corporate Property and Children’s Resources, in consultation with the Director of Public Health and Cabinet Member Resources, will determine whether the works to install preventative measures on the Northminster MSCP are carried out in whole or part together with the decision making process and timetable associated with these options, subject to sufficient budget allocation.
7. To approve an addition to the capital programme to include an unbudgeted provisional sum of £250,000 in the event that the Assistant Director – Education, Resources and Corporate Property in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Resources concludes that the intervention works are required and barriers and fencing are erected as set out in this report.
REASONS FOR THE DECISION
The Council was not required by the Senior Coroner to carry out suicide prevention works to the Northminster MSCP. However the Council took the issues set out in the Coroner’s report very seriously and was considering a range of options including the erection of fencing and infillpanels within the Northminster Car Park having regard to the operational life of the car park, redevelopment proposals and associated budget implications.
ALTERNATIVE OPTIONS CONSIDERED
To do nothing. This was the least cost option but did not address the points made in the Senior Coroner’s Recommendation.
To monitor what impact the works at Queensgate Car Parks had on the numbers of suicides and suicide threat incidents at Northminster MSCP. For reasons set out within the report to Cabinet, this was the approach the Council was taking, although making budgetary provision in the event that the ongoing review determined that the investment was to be made into the car park.
To undertake interventions requiring significantly less investment such as additional signage and increased monitoring one site despite the evidence base for the effectiveness of these being weaker than for barriers. The situation would be reviewed once proposals for the medium to longer term future of the car parkhad been developed. The Council had already undertaken to implement these interventions.