Police have been criticised for not acting on earlier intelligence after a man fell down a lift shaft of property in Luton town centre.
The man was taken to hospital with serious injuries to his head and pelvis after he plunge down the shaft of the empty building in King Street, Luton, on Tuesday evening.
Officers arrived at the scene at 6.30pm and a number of roads in the town centre were closed while emergency services – including an air ambulance – dealt with the incident.
Witness Akil Ahmed, who lives opposite the building and sent us a video from the incident, said his pregnant partner had phoned the police after seeing a number of people “being noisy and violent towards each other throughout the day” in King Street.
He said: “As my partner is eight months pregnant and this is all happening outside the building where we park our car, before any damage was caused she called he police at 5:30pm.
“When she made the call and explained that there were people being drunk and disorderly and trying to gain entry in to an abandoned building we were told to call 101 as it ‘wasn’t an emergency’. The operator then hung up. No-one investigated and there was no one sent out.
“Only an hour later at 6.30pm they received a call that a man had fallen down a lift shaft, a call made by the YMCA staff who were working at the time.
“I looked outside my window to see the whole road blocked off by multiple fire engines, ambulances and police cars. Emergency services had blocked off the road and we’re running around inside and outside the building.
“Fire and rescue then turned up to get the man out of the lift shaft as he had fallen down to the basement. We then heard that an air ambulance was coming to airlift him away.
“Part of the dual carriageway was closed and the helicopter circled a few times before landing, by which time firemen and paramedics had lifted him out the side exit of the building where he was then stretchered into the air ambulance. During the whole situation police had no control as drunk individuals were still walking in and out of the building as they pleased.
“The building had been inspected many times before and people have been asked to leave there on many occasions. After the incident occurred on Tuesday, BTS were called to secure the building as it had been condemned by fire services.
“Later that night while trying to sleep I heard banging outside. I looked out he window to see someone trying to kick the front door glass and smash it to gain entry. I told my partner to call the police and we reported that someone was once again trying to gain entry to the same building where only earlier that day someone was injured.
“Two police vans then turned up and the building was eventually boarded up by 4am on Wednesday morning. The whole situation could’ve been avoided in many situations. The easiest would have been for police to investigate the initial 999 call at 5.30pm.
A spokesperson for Bedfordshire Police said: “We received a 999 call at 5.30pm on Tuesday, however no further information was provided to police in the call about the reason for calling.
“The caller stated that it was not an emergency so they would ring back on 101, however no further contact was received from them.
“We were then called at 6.30pm to reports that a man had fallen down a lift shaft in a property in King Street.
“Emergency Services immediately attended and the man was taken to hospital with serious but not life-threatening injuries.
“Officers investigated the circumstances surrounding the man’s fall but have deemed it to be non-suspicious and there will be no further investigation.
“Police had recently visited the building after receiving reports that people were breaking into it, however when officers checked it was found to be empty.
“Officers contacted the council following the visit and the building was subsequently secured.
“The building has been secured again following yesterday’s incident.”
A spokesperson for the East of England Air Ambulance Service said: “The East of England Ambulance Service Trust was called at 6.26pm on Tuesday to reports that a man had fallen down a lift shaft, at a property on King Street in Luton.
“An ambulance, two rapid response vehicles and the Essex and Herts Air Ambulance Trust attended.
“A man was taken to St Mary’s Hospital by land ambulance with serious injuries to his head and pelvis.”