A vulnerable mum who took her own life suffered from police ‘failings’ and “fell through the net” of the country’s mental health support in the months leading up to her death, an inquest heard.
Lauren Bostock was just 28 when she committed suicide at her house in Ingleby Barwick, as reported by Teesside Live.
She had struggled with mental health care and faced a ‘dreadful’ court summons process for over a year before the tragedy on June 8 2020.
Lauren had previously been arrested in 2019 on suspicion of drug driving following a car accident.
However, an inquest at Teesside Coroner’s Court learned that the police officer handling her case wrongly informed her that she would not face prosecution.
A family member said his call to say there would be no further action had lifted “a huge weight off her shoulders”.
But then shortly before her death, Lauren was told this was a mistake and she would in fact be facing court proceedings.
The previous day, an ex-partner had found a white substance in her kitchen and took it to Stokesley Police Station.
The court heard it was likely she had been deeply concerned about it how it all could affect her custody of her children.
Lauren’s loved ones attending the hearing were also told about previous gaps in her care by the Tees, Esk and Wear Valley NHS Foundation Trust.
She had been known to mental health services since 2017. But from 2019 she struggled with traits of a personality disorder, substance misuse and a relationship breakdown.
She also suffered from chronic back pain.
Sharon Davison from the trust, who carried out a review after Lauren’s death, said there were long gaps between her care in 2019 when she “effectively fell through the net”.
It was in the December that year that Lauren was arrested after the road accident.
Tests later revealed she had cannabis in her system, the hearing was told.
Adrian Holden is now retired but worked in the standards and ethics department at Cleveland Police at the time of Lauren’s death.
He told the hearing that the officer should have generated a summons when the file was sent to him.
“When he got the task in the beginning of March, he didn’t know what it was and closed it,” he told the inquest on Tuesday.
“He had said he wasn’t going to do anything about it and that’s not his decision to make.”
Another, more experienced officer officer later identified the summons hadn’t — but should have been — issued.
But Lauren did not learn the truth until a sergeant who attended her home on Cennon Grove while searching for a former partner in connection with an unrelated issue, told her she would in fact be summonsed.
Then to add to her family’s distress, the summons arrived at Lauren’s home after she had died.
Mr Holden told the hearing there were “failings” and the manner in which Lauren’s case was processed was “dreadful”.
A family member told the hearing Lauren was “a vulnerable person”, and said “things have got to change” as “fundamentally, I don’t want anyone else to go through this”.
Assistant Coroner Karin Welsh said she was unable to come to the conclusion, on the balance of probability, that Lauren’s death could have been prevented had the issues with police and mental health care services not occurred.
But she said services were “not what they should have been”.
“The actions of the mental health service were not up to the standard that would have been wished for,” she said.
“And certainly the lack of communication regarding the summons for the offences was not as it should have been.”
She said, on the balance of probability, there was “a lot going on for Lauren” and some of that pre-dated 2019 particularly in regards mental health and substance misuse.
Much of her concern may have been over the actions of her ex-partner that on June 6, she added.
“In short, I can’t be satisfied to the relevant standard that it would have altered the outcome but that’s not to detract from the concerns that things should very much have been done differently,” she said.
Following the inquest, a Cleveland Police spokeswoman said: “The inquest heard, amongst other matters discussed, that there was unfortunately miscommunication about a police summons.
“This was due to an officer not having information available about a roadside drugs test when he said a matter would not be taken further.
“This miscommunication was examined at the time and it was determined no breach of standards or misconduct had occurred.
“We did ensure learning was taken from this matter. This is a really distressing case for everyone involved and our thoughts are with Lauren’s family.”
Elizabeth Moody, director of nursing and governance at Tees Esk and Wear Valley NHS trust, said: “Our hearts go out to Lauren’s family and friends during this very difficult time.
“We undertook a comprehensive review of Lauren’s care and we are happy to meet with Lauren’s family and answer any questions they may have.”