Police acted appropriately after reports of man following social worker

Published Date: 10.12.2013

A man who complained about the way police reacted to a 999 call, was found by a Police Ombudsman investigation to have himself acted in a potentially threatening way.

The man (Man A) complained that police issued him with a Personal Information Notice (PIN) after he had allegedly waited until a social worker left his workplace and then followed his car for several miles.

The social worker, who knew Man A and realised he was driving the car behind him, said Man A had slowed down and speeded up as necessary in order to stay behind his car.

The social worker was so concerned for his safety that he called 999 and was advised by the call operator to drive straight to the nearest police station.

After arriving at the station, the social worker made a formal statement about what had happened, and a police officer was appointed to investigate.

Following enquiries it was decided that while Man A’s actions could be seen to be menacing and threatening, he had committed no criminal offence.

However, police decided that he needed to be made aware of the concern his actions had caused and, within six days of the incident, he was issued with a Personal Information Notice (PIN) outlining those concerns.

Man A subsequently lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman’s Office, claiming that police had failed to properly investigate the circumstances of the incident before issuing the PIN notice.

While he accepted that he had driven along the route reported by the social worker, he said he had been driving to an appointment.
He also voiced concerns that the notice would be used against him by social workers, who he said were already biased in favour of his former partner on issues arising from the breakdown of their relationship.

During the Police Ombudsman’s investigation, statements were obtained from the police investigating officer and two social workers, and all relevant police records and documentation was reviewed.

The investigation concluded that police had made appropriate enquiries before deciding to issue the PIN. It found that the use of the PIN – which did not involve a court order or a criminal record - was a proportionate response to an issue where no criminal offence had been committed, but where the complainant’s actions had caused concern.

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