Family of woman, 56, who froze to death in Hull cemetery handed payout

Humberside police pays damages to the family of woman, 56, who froze to death in a cemetery when PCSOs called off a search after less than TEN minutes and didn’t even bother getting out of their car to look for her

  • Jacqueline Parsons, 56, froze to death in Hull, East Yorkshire, after a fall in 2018 
  • Two PCSOs were sent to find her but they called off search within ten minutes 
  • Her body was found the next morning after freezing overnight temperatures
  • Humberside Police has now paid an undisclosed sum to her family and partner 
  • A police force has paid damages to the family of a woman who froze to death in a cemetery after PCSOs called off a search after less than ten minutes.

    The officers from Humberside Police didn’t step foot outside of their car to look for Jacqueline Parsons, 56, as she lay dying in Western Cemetery in Hull, East Yorkshire.

    Miss Parsons had fallen off her bike and injured herself, prompting a passer-by to call police from home as he didn’t have a mobile and feared she’d be locked in overnight.

    Her body was discovered by a dog walker the following morning on Sunday, October 28, 2018.

    Humberside Police has now agreed a settlement with her loved ones who took legal action alleging its failures were a breach of its duty of care to protect the right to life.

    Jacqueline Parsons, 56, died after spending 17 hours in freezing temperatures, despite two police officers being dispatched to search for her after she was found by a dog walker who raised the alarm

    Jacqueline Parsons, 56, died after spending 17 hours in freezing temperatures, despite two police officers being dispatched to search for her after she was found by a dog walker who raised the alarm

    Miss Parson’s brother Stephen, 64, said he’d been left angry at the ‘basic failings’ and had taken legal action to ensure lessons were learned.

    He said: ‘Still to this day I can’t come to terms with the fact that Jacqueline would still be here if the police had just done their jobs and done a proper search of the area.

    ‘To think of her left there alone is heartbreaking.’

    Following the initial call at around 4.45pm on Saturday, October 27, 2018, the incident had been logged as urgent.

    But it took until 6.20pm for two PCSOs to be dispatched to assist a woman described as being ‘under the influence’.

    The dispatcher said that only a ‘quick area search’ was required given the time which had passed since the initial call without any further reports, Hudgell Solicitors said.

    An inquest into Miss Parsons’ death was held in October 2020. 

    Tributes were left at the scene in a Hull cemetery where Jacqueline Parsons died in October 2018 after PCSOs called off their search for to find her in just nine minutes

    Tributes were left at the scene in a Hull cemetery where Jacqueline Parsons died in October 2018 after PCSOs called off their search for to find her in just nine minutes

    Miss Parson’s fiancé, Malcolm Cuthbert, told the coroner that she had gone cycling on her bike on at around 9am on Saturday and he became concerned when she had not returned home later in the afternoon.

    He said: ‘It was raining heavily and I was worried. I expected her to return the next day and left the door open [as she had no key] and slept on the sofa.

    ‘On Sunday morning I expected her to return and was tired of waiting, but then saw on Hull Live that a female in her 50s had been found in the cemetery and had a gut feeling it was her.

    ‘I phoned the police and they arrived later to tell me she was dead and I just broke down.’

    The hearing was told that at no point did the PCSOs leave their vehicle and the search was called off after about nine minutes as she hadn’t been found.

    It heard their search consisted of them driving slowly with their car windows down to scan the land adjacent to the main cemetery road which looped around the cemetery.

    An inquest ruled that freezing overnight temperatures, the alcohol in her system and the injury to her ankle from falling off her bike had all contributed to Miss Parsons' death

    An inquest ruled that freezing overnight temperatures, the alcohol in her system and the injury to her ankle from falling off her bike had all contributed to Miss Parsons’ death

    Neither were trained in search techniques and their torches were not as powerful as dedicated lighting systems that marked police vehicles are equipped with.

    It ruled that freezing overnight temperatures, the alcohol in her system and the injury to her ankle from falling off her bike had all contributed to her death.

    Her body was discovered the next day – almost 17 hours after the first call was made to police.

    Miss Parsons’ brother added: ‘I think from the moment the call was logged, and she was described as being intoxicated, there was a dismissive approach from all involved.

    ‘To not get out of the car and to leave after around ten minutes, having simply driven round and shone a couple of torches, was appalling.’

    Adam Biglin, from Hudgell Solicitors, described the search as ‘wholly inadequate in terms of both approach and attitude’.

    Police community support officers pictured at the Hull Cemetery where Jacqueline Parsons' body was found on Sunday, October 28, 2018

    Police community support officers pictured at the Hull Cemetery where Jacqueline Parsons’ body was found on Sunday, October 28, 2018

    On behalf of Humberside Police, Deputy Chief Constable Paul Anderson said: ‘Jacqueline Parsons’ death was a terribly tragic incident and our thoughts and condolences remain with her family and loved ones.

    ‘We have agreed a settlement with the family following a claim that was received on conclusion of the inquest in 2020, as we fully acknowledged the decision reached by the Coroner.

    ‘Following Jacqueline’s death in October 2018 we immediately and voluntarily referred the incident to the Independent Office of Police Conduct (IOPC) due to our involvement. 

    ‘They asked us to carry out a full and thorough review and identify any learning, which was completed and guidance provided to those involved at the time.

    ‘On conclusion of the inquest we further looked at lessons to be learned and have already implemented additional training for officers and staff to prevent any unnecessary distress or worry and to assist should there ever be this type of incident across our force area again.’