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Thursday, January 21, 2016

London - Faisa Ahmed Who Killed Herself Let Down By Authorities

A vulnerable young woman, who killed herself shortly after reporting a rape, was let down by the authorities, an inquest has ruled.

By Afua Hirsch, Social Affairs Editor / Sky News
A vulnerable young woman, who killed herself shortly after reporting a rape, was let down by the authorities, an inquest has ruled.

The inquest into Faisa Ahmed's death also warned that others could also be at risk.

Ms Ahmed, 31, from Tower Hamlets, east London was known to have a history of depression and mental health problems.

Mohammed Ahmed brother of rape victim Faisa Ahmed talking to Sky News

She took her own life hours after contacting the Metropolitan Police, the London Ambulance Service and a job centre, stating she had been attempting suicide, and one day after reporting an alleged rape.

Now a panel of 11 jurors at St Pancras Coroner’s Court has found that all three agencies missed chances to help Ms Ahmed, contributing to her death.

Coroner Mary Elizabeth Hassell also issued a "Danger of Future Death" report, stating that others could also be at risk.

Under the "Regulation 28" measure, the police, ambulance and Department for Work and Pensions will be required to report back on what steps have been taken to prevent future deaths.

Ms Ahmed's brother Mohammed Ahmed told Sky News he believed his sister’s death was an example of failures to take victims of rape and people with mental health problems seriously.

He criticised the police for failing to ensure a specialist officer attended Ms Ahmed when she reported the rape, and leaving her in a vulnerable state.

"On that first day, a specialist officer should have seen her within an hour. That officer was never sent," he said.

"The next day my sister went to the job centre to sign on, and in the job centre she told them that she'd been trying to kill herself.

"The job centre didn't inform anyone. My sister's gone home very down, very depressed.

"She'd actually suffered from depression for years, something that the Metropolitan police knew... they'd actually sectioned her themselves in 2012.

"The next day my sister tried to kill herself and called an ambulance... They felt that it was fine to leave her alone, and that led to her taking her own life less than an hour later."

Ms Ahmed’s family claim the fact that she was a black woman, Muslim and living in a poor area all contributed to the failure of the agencies involved to take a sufficient interest in safeguarding her life.

That finding was not reflected in the jury’s verdict, but the family's lawyer said their concerns had been vindicated by the inquest's findings.

"This isn't about mistakes, this is about systemic problems," said Taimour Lay, a barrister at Garden Court chambers..

"It's been a vindication of the family’s concerns, in stark contrast to the internal investigation by the police which was reluctant to make criticisms about what happened."

Mr Lay added: "There’s no positive outcomes to an inquest, because Faisa doesn’t come back, but if this does led to change and if this means that vulnerable individuals like her get the support they need, then that can be the most positive thing that happens."

In a statement the London Ambulance Service said: "We would like to offer our condolences to the family of Faziah Ahmed.

"We will give careful consideration to the conclusion reached by the jury and any recommendations made by the coroner."

Sky News contacted the other agencies concerned but they declined to comment.