`Failure of system' led to PC's death

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The Independent Online
THE FATHER of a policewoman who was stabbed to death by a paranoid schizophrenic called yesterday for the creation of a national database of dangerous mentally-ill people, as a damning report into his daughter's death criticised police, health and social services.

Sidney Mackay made a scathing attack on the lack ofcommunication between police and social services which led to his daughter Nina being fatally wounded as she tried to arrest community care patient Magdi Elgizouli in October 1997.

Mr Mackay, himself a former police chief superintendent, said that his daughter's death would become "another statistic" unless the system for dealing with dangerous mentally ill people was radically overhauled. He said: "The system wants to be re-organised root and branch. Community Care as we know it is window-dressing. It doesn't exist."

PC Mackay, 25, died after she smashed through the front door of a flat in east London with a hydraulic ram. Elgizouliwas waiting on the other side of the door and plunged a 7in (17cm) kitchen knife into her chest up to the hilt.

The report was produced by a team led by Ken Dixon, the former directior of social services director in Camden. Speaking at its publication, Mr Mackay pointed out that 43 similar reports had been published since the introduction of community care in 1992. "There should be a central database on these individuals throughout the country," he said.

Nina's mother, Patricia, said the shortcomings of the community care system had caused "a committed, courageous policewoman and a dearly- loved daughter" to pay "far too high a price" for doing her job. The Dixon report concluded that her death was both "predictable" and "preventable".

The report was highly critical of the way professionals had allowed Elgizouli's condition to deteriorate after switching his medication to self-administered tablets, which he rarely took. Friends and relatives of Elgizouli had witnessed "clear signs of his disturbance" but their views were "marginalised" by the professionals.

Westminster Social Services was also criticised for placing him in bed and breakfast hotels outside the borough, leading to a further deterioration in his condition. Yesterday Bill Roots, the chief executive of Westminster city council, said that "around 100" mentally ill people were still housed by the authority in bed and breakfasts outside the borough.

Elgizouli, who is now held in a top-security special hospital, was praised by the Dixon team for the help he gave to the inquiry. He said he was "deeply sorry" for what had happened.