Officer disciplined over failure to seize weapons despite alleged threat

Published Date: 12.01.2015

A police officer has been disciplined for failing to seize firearms from a man alleged to have threatened to shoot someone during an ongoing dispute.

The issue came to light during a Police Ombudsman investigation into a complaint by the man who claimed to have been threatened.

He said he had been assaulted by the other party, and alleged police had been biased against him as the police investigation of the assault and other related incidents resulted in his firearms being seized, while the person who had threatened him was allowed to keep his.

He suggested the other party was close to police and this was the basis of the officer’s alleged bias against him. 

In addition, he claimed that the investigating officer had failed to provide the Public Prosecution Service with medical records relating to the alleged assault, which resulted in a decision not to prosecute.

PPS confirmed officer had provided all required evidence prior to decision not to prosecute.

When interviewed, the investigating officer denied any bias and said medical evidence had been provided to the PPS prior to the direction not to prosecute. Enquiries with the PPS confirmed this to have been the case.

The officer added that no one had any influence over his investigation, and he had provided everything required to the PPS, which decided on the basis of the evidence not to prosecute.

The Police Ombudsman’s investigation concluded that the officer had conducted a proper investigation of the alleged assault, and dismissed this aspect of the complaint.

In the absence of supporting evidence of bias against the complainant, this element of the complaint was also not substantiated.

That left the allegation relating to the seizure of firearms. The investigating officer was asked why he had seized the firearms of only one of the men.

Decision not to seize firearms was wrong, given alleged threat and the history of the dispute between the two men.

However, when a Police Ombudsman investigator made further enquiries, she found the officer’s reasoning to be unsustainable given the history of incidents between the two parties.

The PSNI has since implemented a recommendation that the officer be disciplined over his decision not to seize the firearms, which have now been confiscated.

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