Officer disciplined for delay in interviewing witness

Published Date: 21.08.2013

A police officer has been disciplined for an “unacceptable delay” in seeking to interview a witness in relation to an allegation of harassment.

The officer failed to contact the witness until three months after the alleged incident, which had involved the witness’s mother and father-in-law (Man A).

When the witness refused to provide a statement, Man A lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman’s Office that the delay had allowed his former wife to persuade her daughter not to co-operate.

Man A said he feared the delay had therefore increased the likelihood of him being prosecuted for something he insisted he did not do.

During the Police Ombudsman’s investigation of the complaint, an investigator reviewed all relevant police documentation, including the police file, interview transcripts and an investigation log.

The officer involved was also interviewed and accepted responsibility for a “significant delay” in contacting the witness. He said he had allowed his workload to become unmanageable, and revealed that his line manager had spoken to him about this.

The officer’s line manager confirmed that the officer had been advised of the possible consequences of the delay and had been disciplined as a result.

The Police Ombudsman’s Office upheld the complaint, but made no further recommendations for disciplinary action as the matter had already been dealt with by the officer’s line manager.

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