Inquest jury recommends 24-hour link between health and police officials

Improvements in information sharing between health and police officials in emergency situations is one of five recommendations to come from a coroner’s inquest into the death of Jeffrey Scott Hughes.

Improvements in information sharing between health and police officials in emergency situations is one of five recommendations to come from a coroner’s inquest into the death of Jeffrey Scott Hughes.

Hughes, 48, was shot by RCMP Oct. 23, 2009, after they responded to a noise complaint at his apartment building on Selby Street.

The inquest took place July 25-29 in B.C. Supreme Court in Nanaimo to determine how, when, where and by what means Hughes died and make recommendations to prevent future loss of life in similar circumstances.

The jury came up with five recommendations, the first of which is to develop a 24-hour link between health and police officials to share mental health information.

Evidence given during the five-day inquest indicated police were initially unable to get any mental health information on Hughes, and the Vancouver Island Health Authority’s crisis response team in Nanaimo was unavailable at the time.

Other recommendations include: police reports of incidents should be completed in a more timely fashion to reduce inconsistencies; police should be provided with audio and visual equipment such as video cameras; having emergency response team members and negotiators on each police watch; and an expression of support for Bill 12, which proposes to create an independent, civilian-led office to conduct criminal investigations into incidents that involve B.C. police officers and result in death or serious harm.

The investigation of Nanaimo Mounties involved in the Hughes shooting was conducted by police officers involved with the Vancouver Island Integrated Major Crime Unit.