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Monday, April 19, 1999 Published at 18:55 GMT 19:55 UK


Care in community 'condemned'

Tony Blair unveilled a memorial to PC Mackay in East London

The father of a policewoman killed by a psychiatric patient has attacked care in the community after a damning report into his daughter's killing.

Nina Mackay, 25, was stabbed in east London 18 months ago by Magdi Elgizouli - a schizophrenic being treated under the care in the community scheme.

The police, social services and the National Health Service have all came under fire in the damning report.

James Westhead: "Nina Mackay's parents heard that her death could have been prevented"
Nina's father Sidney attacked the care in the community scheme and called for a national data base for mentally ill patients to be set up so that police officers can access information about them.

"How was this man allowed to be where he was on that night, armed with a knife?" he asked.

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

"I hope this report will not end up like my daughter - just another statistic," he said.

The report said a series of shortcomings led to Nina Mackay's "avoidable" death, and that actions could have been taken which could have changed the course of events.

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

Psychiatrists duped

The BBC's Bob Sinkinson: "The report is critical of a lack of communication between the various agencies involved"
Elgizouli plunged a seven-inch knife into WPC Mackay's chest after she had smashed through the door of his east London home to arrest him for breaches of bail.

She collapsed after the stabbing and died two hours later in hospital. She had removed her police body armour to wield a battering ram on Elgizouli's front door.

[ image: PC Mackay removed her body armour to break down the door]
PC Mackay removed her body armour to break down the door
Last year the Old Bailey was told that Elgizouli had twice been granted bail in connection with an arson attack in the 10 days before the killing. He had duped psychiatrists about his mental state.

Elgizouli believed that the police were persecuting him. He had attacked people in the street without warning because he thought they were undercover officers.

[ image:  ]
Following an unprovoked attack in 1992 he was sent to a special hospital under the Mental Health Act, but was discharged a year later into the care of his brothers.

At the Old Bailey it emerged plans were afoot to commit him again on the night Pc Mackay died.

The report, carried out under Department of Health guidelines, was commissioned by Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster and East London and the City health authorities, along with the London councils of Westminster and Newham.

Marjorie Wallace of SANE: "Few of these situations result in homicide, many end in suicide"
The inquiry criticised social services in London for not providing adequate housing and support for Elgizouli.

It also criticised health services which failed to pass on vital information about him to GPs when he moved from one London borough to another.

A Guardianship Order which had required Elgizouli to attend a day hospital for regular injections of medication had been allowed to lapse without any planning for his future treatments.

[ image: Plans were afoot to recommit Magdi Elgizouli to Hospital]
Plans were afoot to recommit Magdi Elgizouli to Hospital
The report accepted that police had acted in "good faith".

But it questioned why the Armed Territorial Support Group had been sent to arrest the mentally ill man, without gaining enough information about his background, and without the use of a family member or negotiator to persuade him to leave the flat without violence.

It 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, chaired by Ken Dixon, has called 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 has also recommended national guidelines to raise clinical standards and promote good practices for treatment of the mentally ill across the country.

And it called for the government to commission research into the housing needs of the mentally ill.

In October last year Prime Minister Tony Blair unveiled a memorial to WPC Mackay at the housing association flat where she was stabbed.

Mental health charity Mind welcomed the inquiry's findings, saying "vast improvements" were needed in the way the police dealt with mentally ill people, particularly those from ethnic minorities.

It called for a comprehensive review of police training in this area.

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