Manchester mother demands apology from public health and police chiefs

A furious mother is demanding an apology after police turned up at her home in a van to check her ‘petrified’ daughter was self-isolating at home with Covid-19.

Officers visited the home of Kathryn Crook in Middleton, Greater Manchester, to check that Charlotte, 12, was adhering to Covid guidance after catching the virus.

Ms Crook, 45, says her daughter was terrified by the experience, alleging the behaviour of Rochdale public health officers and Greater Manchester Police was ‘inappropriate and heavy-handed.’

She is now urging those involved to apologise for what she says was ‘overkill’.

Officers first visited the family home on July 11 and asked to speak directly to Charlotte, before quizzing her mother on whether she was self-isolating.

Ms Crook said: ‘They would not tell me and my husband why they wanted to speak to my daughter.

‘I suggested again that she was only 12 and as her mother, I should be the one they should speak to.

‘My daughter by this time was stood behind me crouching thinking she had done something wrong and was petrified.

‘The female police officer who stood at our door then proceeded to shout through to my daughter to check she had been isolating.

‘I spent Monday trying to find out why this had happened only to be told by Rochdale public health department that they had authorised this to happen.’

The furious mother later wrote to her MP Chris Clarkson to express her concern, and his office is now investigating the incident.

She added: ‘During Monday we also received a letter addressed to our daughter from Rochdale council stating that she must get in touch with them as a matter of urgency about her isolating.

‘I called the phone line and they said it was standard practice, even though the leaflet read as if aimed at an adult. I was also told the person who had signed it no longer works there.’

Ms Crook says the family then received another visit from GMP on June 12.

‘We settled down and just after 9pm got a knock at the door,’ she said.

‘It was the police again, this time in a riot van and coming to “check” again that my daughter was isolating.

‘Me and my husband were so annoyed by this. The neighbours had also seen all of this and came out to show their support for us.

‘They could see what had happened and a riot van in the street is a bit much. This time, however, the policeman was polite and was much more forthcoming than the two that had been the previous night.

‘It was terribly upsetting again for my daughter and she had another meltdown again thinking the police were going to arrest her.

‘I have since spoken to the public health specialist at Rochdale Council who has blamed NHS Test and Trace for all this and said if I’d have said we were all isolating the matter would not have got to this.’

Ms Crook says her daughter, a pupil at the Blue Coat School in Oldham, has been isolating and working from home since her positive PCR test on July 4. She was due out of isolation on July 14.

‘I got the call from NHS Test and Trace on July 5,’ she said. ‘They were asking for my daughter. I explained to them that we had used my phone number for the registration of the test and asked them what they wanted, as I was her mother.

‘They said they wanted to speak to her, and when I asked them if the data provided would be anonymous they said they could not guarantee her details would not be passed on to contacts.

‘At this point, I said I did not consent to her data being used as she is only 12 and a minor.’

The mother added: ‘The behaviour of NHS Test and Trace, Rochdale public health officers and GMP has been completely inappropriate and heavy-handed over the whole thing.

‘My daughter has been in complete meltdown, thinking she was going to get arrested at any moment.’

Ms Crook and her husband Anthony, 47, have since received an email from Rochdale Council, which confirms they have ‘closed down your daughter’s case record and no further contact will be made.’

A spokesperson added: ‘Where the national track and trace team is not able to contact someone to confirm isolation, the details are passed to councils to be dealt with locally.

‘It is important that people carry out their legal duty to isolate so that other people are protected from the virus.

‘By speaking to people who are isolating we are also able to establish if they need any support, like food shopping, so it is really beneficial for people to engage with the track and trace system.

‘We have spoken directly with the family and offered our support to them.’

A spokesperson for Greater Manchester Police said: ‘The process undertaken with the NHS track and trace service is not usually conducted by GMP, unless there is a breach.

‘This means that the local authority will be contacted first if someone has not answered the calls made from the NHS to check if they are isolating as required.

‘By working in partnership with the local authority, police officers will then be asked to attend as there has been unanswered calls and a suspected breach to carry out the checks and issue a fixed penalty notice if required.

‘Any engagement will be done directly with the person who has been asked to self-isolate.

‘In this instance when an officer attended on Monday night we established that the isolation request had been adhered to and the officer was satisfied that the original NHS request had been met.

‘These checks are also conducted on welfare grounds as having to self-isolate could impede someone’s ability to get food or essential items so it’s important they are continued in-line with national guidance.’

GMP confirmed they did not know the age of Charlotte when they attended.

They added the vehicle used was not a ‘riot van’ but ‘a vehicle commonly used by district officers in order for them to respond to incidents.’

They said in a further statement: ‘The officers who attended the address to check that the self-isolation regulation was being adhered to, did so in good faith and to engage directly with the person involved.

‘Once it was established that they were isolating correctly and the relevant welfare checks were addressed the officers left and have not had reason to return.

‘The van used was not a ‘riot van’, this type of vehicle is commonly used by district officers in order for them to respond to incidents and engage with the public.’

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