Published Date: 30.09.2015
Two police officers who were accused of failing to care for a 14 year old girl after they arrested her father in relation to a suspected firearms incident have been cleared following an investigation by the Police Ombudsman’s Office.
The father made a complaint to the Office, alleging that his daughter was left in a distressed state by the actions of the officers, and that police should have made arrangements for her care while he was away.
He stated that due to his daughter’s age and how distressed she was as a result of the incident he did not wish her to be approached by Ombudsman investigators for a witness statement.
Several statements were recorded from police who attended the man’s home on the night of the arrest. All of them stated that the teenager showed no signs of distress at any time, and that at no point did the man make his concerns known to police. The officers recalled that the daughter had made plans to visit a friend on the night and therefore would not be alone.
They stated that as they left the house the man asked to speak with his daughter. They recalled the situation was calm and that the daughter was definitely not distressed.
The officers said they were they not informed of the girl’s age, but they would have been happy to contact a relative if adult supervision was required or there had there been any signs of a problem. As the girl seemed mature enough and both she and her father had no issues, the officers decided that no action was needed.
Police policies and Northern Ireland legislation were reviewed by the Police Ombudsman’s Office. Legislation states that it is an offence for someone with responsibility for a person under 16 to abandon them in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to health. It would also be generally advised by the National Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) that children under the age of twelve years old are not left alone for long periods of time.
On the basis of the available evidence the Ombudsman concluded that the police’s actions were proportionate, and as a result recommended no action be taken against the officers involved.