Published Date: 08.12.2014
An investigation by the Police Ombudsman’s Office has rejected a complaint that police failed to deal properly or impartially with three men involved in a fight at a house party.
One of the men alleged that police had failed to properly search the incident scene, had allowed his assailant to tamper with evidence, and had failed to deal with the assault upon him as a priority. He also claimed that as a victim, he should not have been arrested in the first place.
A Police Ombudsman investigator interviewed the police officer who led the police investigation of the incident. He also obtained statements from a number of other officers and civilian witnesses, and reviewed all relevant police documentation.
He established that when officers arrived at the scene they were met by a number of people who gave conflicting accounts of what had happened. The investigating officer said that several of the people were drunk, which added to the confusion.
He said police had conducted a search of the property and found blood in the kitchen and landing area, and seized a table lamp which had apparently been used during the fight. Three men who were involved in the fight were arrested that night and subsequently given street bail.
Arrangements were made for follow-up interviews just over three weeks later.
After being bailed, one of the men returned to the house giving rise to the allegation that he had been allowed to tamper with evidence at the incident scene. The Police Ombudsman’s investigation, however, found that the scene had, by that stage, already been examined by police.
An allegation that police had not properly searched the incident scene as they failed to find a glass used in the attack was also not substantiated. Evidence showed that no mention of a glass had been made at the time of the assault, and had instead first been mentioned just under a year later in connection with a compensation claim.
The investigation also found that a three week gap between the incident and follow-up interviews did not mean that the incident was not being treated as a priority by police. The investigating officer explained that gap was to allow sufficient time to pursue enquiries with a large number of potential witnesses. An examination of the officer’s work rota confirmed that the timeframe was appropriate given workload pressures.
The Police Ombudsman investigator also concluded that in the confused circumstances police encountered when they went to the house – with differing accounts being given by a range of witnesses – police had been justified in making three arrests.
No disciplinary action was recommended against any officer as a result of the Police Ombudsman’s investigation.