By Hannah Rodger and Cameron Ritchie

THE father of a student found dead on a county beach following a beer festival has described the police’s admission that emergency calls about his son were mishandled as “an admission of guilt”.

Officers have said that 999 calls from the public about 23-year-old Scott Calder’s welfare were not handled as well as they could have been and have now made recommendations for improvement.

Scott, of Edinburgh, was found dead near to Longniddry Bents No.1 car park having been at an Oktoberfest event with friends at nearby Gosford House the previous evening.

The masters student was highly intoxicated and was seen staggering along the A198 coast road on October 13 last year, having become separated from friends after the event.

Several members of the public called to report concerns for Scott, and others at the festival say they told nearby officers about his condition.

Police picked him up, assessed him and decided he was safe to be left alone, before dropping him at a bus stop at Port Seton without a phone or wallet. He was found dead about a mile away the following morning.

Now, officers have told Scott’s parents Brian and Karen Calder that they have identified a “notable incident” around the handling of calls about Scott’s wellbeing.

The phrase ‘notable incident’ is used when the performance of call handlers or officers is “likely to have a significant impact on the reputation of the division, Police Scotland or partners”, and where lessons could be learned.

Fewer than one per cent of calls to Police Scotland result in notable incidents, according to official figures.

Brian Calder said: “Only a few days ago, I was told that calls about Scott had been designated as a notable incident.

“I was told about this as a courtesy, with no other details as to what exactly this incident meant or what it involved.

“Police Scotland say they encourage their officers and staff to capture incidents where there may be an opportunity for additional training, a change in the process or improvement in their services to the public.

“To the layman this was, and is, an admission of guilt.

“I feel as though this is the first time they are possibly acknowledging something went wrong that night.

“We knew this all along but wish we hadn’t had to wait for 21 weeks for this to emerge.”

Police Scotland said it was unable to give further details about what was discovered during the review of the call handling process as Scott’s death was still under investigation.

Officers have made submissions to the Crown Office, who will now consider whether any other action should be taken.

Scott’s family have called for a fatal accident inquiry into his death to be held and have instructed a law firm to help them get justice.

Police Scotland referred the circumstances of Scott’s death to the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner, who decided officers acted appropriately.

Chief Inspector Stuart Reid said: “Our thoughts and sympathies remain with Scott Calder’s family.

“I remain committed to discussing the circumstances surrounding Scott’s death with his family.

“It would be inappropriate at this time to share any further information until this meeting has taken place.”

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said: “The Procurator Fiscal has received a report in connection with the death of a 23-year-old man at Longniddry Bents, East Lothian, on October 14, 2018.

“The investigation into the death, under the direction of Scottish Fatalities Investigation Unit, is ongoing and the family will continue to be kept updated in relation to any significant developments.”

Councillor Lachlan Bruce, who represents the Preston Seton Gosford ward, said: “It’s clear that something has gone wrong at Police Scotland when handling this call and it’s right that Police Scotland learn from those mistakes.

“The family have called for a fatal accident inquiry and I think that would be appropriate in the circumstances.

“In the future, if events like Oktoberfest, which have a lot of alcohol and are set in a rural location, were to be held in the county I would want them to be a lot better organised, in particular around transport to and from the event.

“We can’t have another tragic situation like the one we have already had.

“Until that safety could be fully demonstrated by an event organiser, I would be nervous about them taking place.”

A spokeswoman for East Lothian Council told the Courier: “There has been no application from the organisers for a similar event this year.

“They intimated last year that it was highly unlikely that they would repeat this event.

“No similar events have made application to East Lothian Council.”