Page last updated at 20:04 GMT, Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Stoke baby-find alert to paramedics delayed by an hour

The Islamic Centre in Stoke-on-Trent where a newborn baby was found
The baby was left outside the centre wrapped in clothes and a bag

Paramedics have said they were not called to a mosque in Stoke-on-Trent until an hour after police found an abandoned baby, who later died.

Members of Makki Masjid mosque in Shelton found the baby on the doorstep but claim it was not examined by police for 45 minutes.

Staffordshire Police said it found a baby's body at 1030 GMT, but ambulance staff were not called until 1139 GMT.

The police watchdog is investigating the force's assessment of the scene.

Staffordshire Police - who later said the child died in hospital at 1230 GMT - have not commented on the claims about the examination delay but referred its actions to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Death 'was assumed'

However, a West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman said: "[We] can confirm [we were] called to the Islamic Centre in Beresford Street, Stoke-on-Trent, on Saturday 6 March at 1139 GMT, to reports of a new born baby being found on the steps of the building."

He said a rapid response vehicle arrived at 1144 GMT and an ambulance arrived at 1147.

No other ambulance calls were made to attend the mosque prior to the 1139 GMT request, the spokesman added.

Makki Masjid mosque trustee Mohammed Akhbar
Mosque trustee Mr Akhbar called Staffordshire Police

"On arrival, ambulance service staff found no patient at the scene," he said.

Navid Hussain, a regular worshipper at the mosque, said the baby was taken to hospital in a police patrol car at about 1140 GMT, 45 minutes after police arrived on the scene.

He said that was the first time officers had examined the baby after they found it inside a plastic carrier bag outside the mosque.

"The police just assumed it was dead because of the note that was left with it, but they didn't actually check to see if it was still alive," Mr Hussain said.

Police said the baby was wrapped in newspaper with two £10 notes and a message that said: "Please help bury him. Shukran (thankyou)."

However upset, distressed and frightened [the mother] is, I would urge her to come forward. We can help
Det Ch Insp Phil Bladen, Staffordshire Police

Mr Hussain said of the elderly mosque trustees who found the baby: "They're gentle guys you know, very respectful. They would not have called an ambulance once the police were involved because they would have seen that as interfering in police business."

The IPCC said the timings involved in the police's response were "the sort of things" it would be looking into, as part of its investigation, but has not commented on the ambulance service claims.

The premature baby is believed to have been born between 36 and 38 weeks and post-mortem tests on the body have proved inconclusive.

Police said the ethnicity of the baby had not been established and further tests would be carried out.

The force has renewed its appeal for the mother to come forward.

Det Ch Insp Phil Bladen, of Staffordshire Police, said: "We have everything in place to help the mother. However upset, distressed and frightened she is, I would urge her to come forward. We can help."

Police want to speak to anyone who was in the area between Friday night and 0630 GMT on Saturday.

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