Friday, 13 June 2014

Arndale centre and the suicide of Lauren Johnson

I have received several pieces of correspondence about the safety of the Arndale centre following fifth suicide from the top floor.

The latest last week a tragic incident where Lauren Johnson a young woman died following a fall from the roof of the Arndale Centre. 

My condolences go out to her family and friends and to the emergency services that have to attend such tragic scenes. 

While the coroner will no doubt want to conduct proper enquiries into the circumstances of this particular tragedy, we know that over the past few years a number of incidents of suicide have taken place at this location. I have written to the owners and received the reply at the foot of the page.

Naturally, in the hours following the incident there has been a lot of public concern expressed about this tragedy and calls have been made to my office and to the Council to either demolish the building or to install safety measure in the car park. These views have been widely made through the social media and it is clear that local people feel very strongly about what has happened.

Joan Smith, Cabinet member responsible has said in response "I want to make it clear that the Arndale Centre and its Car Parks are private property and that they are in no way owned or controlled by the Council. The Chief Executive has spoken this afternoon to Chief Inspector Platt at the Lancashire Constabulary, andwe will be contacting the owners of the centre – a company called Jesta Finance – to again ask that they review the security of their building and take any steps necessary to try and prevent further occurrences of this kind."

I am also concerned that we reach out to vulnerable people long before they choose to end their life fatality. I will be writing to LCC to ensure that people at risk are more aware of the services on offer and that no problem is worth the loss of life. That there is help on offer and that help needs to be more widely publicised. Reaching out may be a far more helpful approach.