Poor police investigation ends with apology to victim of assault

Published Date: 18.06.2013

A police officer failed stay in touch with a victim of an assault and did not send vital information on the case to the Public Prosecution Service, an investigation by the Police Ombudsman has found.

The Office recommended that the officer be disciplined after it investigated the complaints of a man who was frustrated over what he saw as police inactivity over the prosecution of his attacker. He expressed concern that the details of the case had not been forwarded by the police to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) despite the fact that the attacker had admitted the assault.

The man alleged that at the time of the assault the police did not arrange for injuries to his head to be photographed, nor did they request a medical report on his condition. He also complained that the officer in charge of the investigation had not kept in touch with him about the progress of the case, even though he had left numerous messages asking for his calls to be returned.

A full independent investigation was carried out by the Investigating Officer from the Police Ombudsman’s Office. She asked for all the police documents in relation to the incident and identified the officer directly involved. He was given formal notice of the complaint made against him.

The PPS were asked if the assault had been reported to them. They confirmed that it had not. The tape containing the interview with the man arrested for the assault was requested from the PSNI, and checked to confirm that it contained evidence of him admitting the offence. Having got this admission of guilt the police officer should have prepared a file of papers for the PPS, and included a transcript of the interview, medical evidence and any witness statements. There was no sign that any such file was prepared.

When the police officer responsible for the case was interviewed by Ombudsman investigators he insisted that he had prepared the report and sent it to the PPS. When he was asked for evidence of this he could not give any. He was also unable to explain why he had not contacted the victim of the assault to let him know what was happening with the case.

Poor investigation, lack of updates, and failed to submit file to PPS.

Substantiating the complaint against the officer, the Police Ombudsman concluded that the police officer failed to submit the report to the PPS, failed to provide updates to the victim, and failed to progress the investigation as he should have done.

The Police Ombudsman also recommended that a new officer be appointed to address the failings of the initial investigation.

The officer was disciplined by the PSNI and apologised to the victim for not maintaining contact.

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