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Alderney Doctor Investigation Media Release 3

Alderney Doctor Investigation - 14th April 2015 update from Chief of Police Patrick Rice

MEDIA STATEMENT

 

 Statement from Chief of Guernsey Police Patrick Rice

'It has been almost two weeks since search warrants were served on the Eagle Medical Practice and a private residential property in Alderney. 

'During that time a number of concerns have been raised by members of the community and I will address some of those as best as I can now, while clearly being acutely aware that we are in the midst of a police investigation.

'As is known, a team of 10 Guernsey Police officers travelled to Alderney on Thursday 2nd April. 

'This team comprised a Detective Chief Inspector and Detective Sergeant to oversee the operation, a family liaison officer, deployed to join Alderney-based officers in supporting the families of the patients in question, a Neighbourhood Policing Team Sergeant tasked with engaging with the Alderney community, who were understandably concerned by news of this investigation, and a uniformed officer to man the cordon - displayed to protect the doctor in question, as the media could have gathered at the surgery's door otherwise. 

'The remaining five members of the team were search-trained officers, who were split and conducted simultaneous searches at the two premises. While I can appreciate that it was a shock to some residents to see this many officers in Alderney, I am comfortable that the operation was handled proportionately given the detailed searches that were required at each property.

'As I have said previously, decisive early police action was necessary in order to ensure the protection of the public. Following the internal investigation by the Health and Social Services Department and its subsequent referral to Guernsey Police, the safety of Alderney residents was rightly our primary concern.

'The impact on the families involved in this investigation has been substantial. Guernsey Police family liaison officers have been in regular contact with relatives during the last 12 days. While the two properties were being searched, officers met with families of the patients to inform them that their cases formed part of the investigation. 

'Unfortunately it was not possible to inform them about the investigation beforehand as we had to ensure that the integrity of the police operation was maintained.

'As I'm sure islanders will understand, it would clearly be inappropriate for police to comment on any speculated offences at this stage. That is why an investigation is necessary, to determine if any criminality has taken place.

'What I can say is that medical records relating to patients who have died have been seized and we will be engaging independent expert medical advice to help us examine these documents. This will take time as it is not the sort of work that can be completed in haste.

'I am aware of the strength of feeling around this investigation, particularly in Alderney, and would once again wish to reassure people that it will be conducted with diligence and respect to all concerned.

'However, I must add that it is a serious investigation and, while this complex work progresses, I would ask all members of the community to demonstrate restraint, and support those involved with compassion.

'Finally, there has also been much speculation in Alderney around the early on-scene arrival of BBC Guernsey, with some suggesting Guernsey Police gave a pre-briefing about the operation.

'I can unequivocally state that no such briefing occurred. Guernsey Police did not inform any media of the operation before it took place.

'It is with regret, however, that I must confirm that someone did leak this information to BBC Guernsey. Whoever did so could have jeopardised a police investigation. 

'As such we have launched an investigation in an attempt to identify the source of the leak.

'I did not take that decision lightly; however, this went far beyond your average leak of information. It was one of the most irresponsible I have ever come across and the source crossed a line when they put a significant police investigation at risk. 

'I am grateful the BBC took its responsibilities seriously and did not act on the leak with the same recklessness that was displayed by the person who provided it to them.'

 

ENDS

Issued by Joel de Woolfson, Communications Manager for Law Enforcement, telephone number 719451