No. 41 of #50cases.
You are being obsessively stalked. You feel eyes watching you at every turn. Your property is damaged – car tyres burst, windows smashed. A warning that something’s coming. But what? You desperately seek protection from the police. But none comes. Next thing, your stalker appears at your door with a gun. The threats have become real. Your last thought – “where are the police?!”
This was the terrifying reality for young Ahmet Osman. He and his family were stalked by Paul Paget-Lewis, a teacher at Ahmet’s school. The police were repeatedly told, yet failed to stop Paget-Lewis ultimately shooting and seriously wounding Ahmet and tragically killing his father. Paget-Lewis was convicted of manslaughter. But what about the police who failed to step in? The Osmans tried to sue them for neglecting to protect the family. But the UK court said that the police had no duty of care to the family and could not be made responsible for failing to do their job.
Ahmet and his mother did not give up. They took their case to the European Court of Human Rights, saying that their rights to be able to access a court had been violated. The judges ruled that their human rights had been breached and they were ‘entitled to have the police account for their actions and omissions’. The UK was not justified in giving the police this immunity from complaints about their actions.
The Osmans’ case has forced police practice to change. The police now issue “Osman warnings” to people in danger, telling them how to get protection. So, although things didn’t turn out so well for the Osmans, thanks to them, the police might just act in time before this horror becomes a reality for you.