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Family blame ‘mental health failings’ for man’s threat to jump from Hampstead tower block

PUBLISHED: 12:00 21 March 2013 | UPDATED: 13:34 21 March 2013

The man clings to a drainpipe attached to Palgrave House. Picture: Polly Hancock.

The man clings to a drainpipe attached to Palgrave House. Picture: Polly Hancock.

Archant

A dramatic stand-off between police and a father-of-three – who spent five hours threatening to jump from a tower block in Hampstead – has been blamed on failings by Camden mental health services.

Palgrave House tower block. Picture: Polly Hancock.Palgrave House tower block. Picture: Polly Hancock.

The 35-year-old shocked onlookers passing by Palgrave House flats, in Lawn Road, last Thursday by climbing out of a window at around 2.15pm and clinging to a drainpipe below, where he stayed for the next five hours.

Witnesses heard the man screaming “They are going to kill me” at police and threatening to jump.

He was eventually persuaded by family and police negotiators to return to safety inside the building at around 7pm, and was sectioned under the Mental Health Act.

The man’s former father-in-law told the Ham&High it was not the first time police had been forced to attend to him.

Police respond to the man's threats to jump from Palgrave House. Picture: Polly Hancock.Police respond to the man's threats to jump from Palgrave House. Picture: Polly Hancock.

He said: “Police must have been called four times before when he’s barricaded himself in his flat. All they do is put him in Highgate mental health unit and then after four weeks they sling him out.

“To have the police called four times when he’s done exactly the same thing – except hang off a drainpipe.

“They’ve let him down, they’ve literally let him down. It’s a cry for help – all he wants is help.”

Police were called by residents who were concerned about their neighbour just before 10am.

Four hours later the man, wearing a white hoodie, jeans and trainers, emerged from a window and clung to a drainpipe running vertically up the block.

When he first climbed out witnesses described scenes of pandemonium as more than 10 police officers ran about on the ground beneath as the man repeatedly screamed for “help”.

In a hair-raising moment he then shuffled down the drainpipe to the fourth floor where he remained.

The man’s shocked brother joined a police negotiator on the grass beneath the flats in a desperate attempt to calm the situation.

Crowds of shocked onlookers also gathered around the high-rise flats on the corner of Lawn Road and Fleet Road to watch the drama unfold, before police set up a large cordon, closing Fleet Road and Upper Park Road, causing severe traffic problems.

It is thought the man eventually returned inside the block when a family member coaxed him to a window and his father grabbed him and pulled him to safety.

His former father-in-law has fears about the quality of care the man will receive when he is released from hospital.

“Last time they discharged him he was promised crisis care,” he said. “They turned up twice in the first week and then never turned up again.

“He comes here quite regularly and we’ll chat. I’ll say, ‘Are you all right?’ And he’ll say, ‘Yes’. But he’s not. They have just failed the boy in my view. It’s not just him they’ve failed in Camden – they have failed many.”

A spokesman for Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust said it did not comment on individual cases, adding: “If service users, the families of service users, or carers of service users, are concerned about the trust services, there are clear and easy routes through which to make a complaint.”

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