No misconduct over allegations officers failed to take action to protect child

Published Date: Aug 2015

An investigation by the Police Ombudsman’s Office has found that police did not fail to take action when a car was driven dangerously with an unrestrained child on board.

A motorist contacted the Police Ombudsman’s Office to complain that police had failed to pull over a car being driven erratically and at speed on the M2 in October last year.

She reported that the car was weaving through traffic and undertaking and overtaking other vehicles while being followed by police for a distance of 1.5 to 2 miles.

She said it was clear that a child travelling in the rear of the car was unrestrained, and said officers had failed to take action despite at one stage drawing alongside the car.

There was no police documentation about the incident as no enforcement action had been taken, but a Police Ombudsman investigator traced the officers involved from other police records.

Police computer data showed that they had been travelling at a wide range of speeds at the times reported by the member of the public, but had not activated the blue lights or sirens on the police vehicle.

When interviewed, the driver of the police car denied seeing an unrestrained child in the car. He said the vehicle had come to his attention because it hesitated as it approached a roundabout, and had also been driven at an excessive speed.

The other officer in the police car said he had attempted to get a reading of the car’s speed, but this had not been possible due to a technical issue. By the time he tried to get a second reading, he said the driver had become aware of their presence and had slowed down.

Both officers denied that they had seen the other car being driven erratically, and said that if it had been the driver would have been pulled over regardless of the speed he was driving.

They also stated that they had not seen a child in the vehicle.

A DVD recording of footage captured from a camera in the police car was also examined. It contained no evidence that the civilian vehicle had been weaving through traffic, and it was not possible to determine from the footage whether a child had been in the car.

The DVD also contained no evidence of poor driving by the police driver.

The driver of the other car, who lived outside Northern Ireland, was also contacted but claimed that neither he nor his vehicle had been in Northern Ireland on the date in question.

The investigation concluded that there was insufficient evidence of misconduct by the officers involved to justify any action being taken against them.

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