No misconduct in police threat to kill investigation

Published Date: 26.12.2014

The Police Ombudsman has recommended that no misconduct action should be taken against an officer accused of failing to properly investigate an alleged threat to kill.

A member of the public lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman’s Office after the Public Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute the person alleged to have made the threats.

The complainant alleged that the PPS had reached its decision on the basis of a lack of evidence provided to it by police, who he claimed had failed to obtain CCTV footage of the incident or to speak to witnesses.

When interviewed by Police Ombudsman investigators, the investigating police officer accepted that he had not obtained CCTV footage of the incident. He said both parties had already accepted that a heated exchange had taken place and CCTV footage would have added nothing to the case.

He also accepted that he had not initially interviewed the alleged suspect or other witnesses. He said this was because he considered there was no case to answer as the complainant himself did not believe his life to be in danger as a result of the threat.

Given the complainant’s doubt about the suspect’s ability and/or intent to carry out the threat, the officer said he considered the offence of making a threat to kill to be “incomplete”.  

Nevertheless, he said that when he became aware of the complainant’s dissatisfaction, he sought advice from his line manager, after which he recorded statements from the complainant and another witness. He also interviewed the suspect, who denied making any threat to kill.

The officer said all this evidence was then submitted in a file to the PPS.

Having considered the steps taken by the officer to investigate the allegation, the Police Ombudsman investigator concluded that the officer had conducted a proportionate investigation, given the circumstances of the case. He therefore made no recommendations for misconduct action against him.


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