Officer disciplined after assault charges ruled out by delay

Published Date: 07.01.2015

A police officer has been disciplined after a file about an alleged assault was submitted to the Public Prosecution Service too late to be considered.

The victim of the alleged assault, who said he had been attacked at his workplace by a colleague, later lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman’s Office that his attacker had “got away with it” as a result of the delay.

Files relating to alleged common assaults must be submitted to the PPS within six months of the incident date, but in this case the officer submitted the file a month too late.

A Police Ombudsman investigator – who interviewed the officer and reviewed police paperwork – established that the assault had first been reported to police about four months after it occurred.

However, the officer dealing with the case said it was his understanding at that stage that the victim did not wish to provide a formal statement.  Instead, he believed the man wanted only a crime number in order to encourage his employers to speed up their internal investigation of the incident.

The alleged victim, however, said he had expected that the incident would be investigated. On the advice of his solicitor, he returned to his local police station 17 days before the deadline and made a formal statement about the alleged assault.

Despite not having enough time to complete his enquiries, the investigating police officer did not seek advice from his supervisor or the PPS about the possibility of seeking an extension to the normal time limit. Instead, he completed his investigation and submitted the file a month after the deadline, resulting in the PPS directing no prosecution.

The PSNI has since implemented a recommendation that the officer should be disciplined for the late submission of the file.

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