Investigation allays concerns that police failed to assist 14-year-old attacked at Belfast interface

Published Date: Nov 2015

A Police Ombudsman investigation has allayed concerns that police failed to help a 14-year-old boy who was chased and assaulted by older youths during a band parade in Belfast.

The boy’s mother lodged a complaint that police had done nothing to help her son when he was cornered in a cul-de-sac and attacked by four older youths – aged about 18 - in May this year.

She said police had been told of the attack by two of her son’s friends who had managed to escape on their bikes.

The incident happened at an interface area during a band parade when a large number of police officers were in the area.

One of the youths who escaped said he went to a nearby police Land Rover and asked for help.  He said he told police “we got chased, my friend got caught by people, could you please help him.”

The boy said the officer replied that they could not leave the area but would radio for help, though the boy said he did not hear any such call being made while he was at the Land Rover. He said the officers told him to go home and tell his friend’s parents what had happened.

The boy who was attacked was punched and kicked to the head and body and suffered cuts, grazes and bruising. He said no one came to help him before the attack ended, at which stage some young girls assisted him, followed by some other local youths.

A Police Ombudsman investigator obtained police records of officers who had been duty in the area at the time of the incident and identified the officer who had spoken to the boy.

The officer said that although his unit had been deployed to a particular spot and was unable to leave that area, he had passed the details on to another police patrol who had then dealt with it.

This was borne out by police records which showed that the other police patrol had sought assistance from a CCTV unit to locate the attack or the assailants. They had also patrolled local streets to try to find the boy and his attackers. They found no sign of either, and reported that no one had sought their assistance while they were in the area.

Police records also showed that after the assault was reported by the boy’s parents the following morning, further checks were conducted of CCTV footage from the area.

Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire said: “I can understand how a parent would feel if police were aware of an attack on their son or daughter but did nothing to help them. Thankfully, it is clear that that did not happen in this case.  The evidence shows that officers took steps to identify and stop any attack and to apprehend the assailants afterwards.”

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