Officer disciplined for failing to investigate and making false record

Published Date: 13.05.2015

A police officer has been formally disciplined for failing to investigate an allegation of criminal damage, and later falsely claiming to have taken steps to progress the case.

It follows a Police Ombudsman investigation into a complaint from the owner of a van who reported that his vehicle had been damaged by another motorist in Co. Derry/Londonderry.

The man called police to report that a retired police officer he had been “having difficulties” with for a number of years had parked beside the van and deliberately hit it with the door of his car.

The officer tasked with investigating the incident did not take a statement from the van driver right away but said he would come back to him after he had spoken to his sergeant to get some background to the case.  He was also alleged to have asked for some time to do this as he was going on a period of leave and night duty.

However, after almost four months and having had no response to a voicemail and two text messages – and after hearing that the case had been closed - the owner of the van made a complaint to the Police Ombudsman’s Office.

The investigating officer was interviewed about the allegations by Police Ombudsman investigators.  He accepted that he had not contacted the complainant as promised, and admitted that he had done nothing to investigate the case.

Officer admitted doing nothing to investigate case.

He also admitted falsely recording on an official police record that ‘both parties have been spoken to and advised accordingly regarding behaviour and no additional complaints or offences are revealed’.

The officer regretted what had happened, and explained that an issue had affected his work performance at that time and had caused things to get on top of him.

He also insisted it was the first time he had ever disposed of a case in that way.

The man who was alleged to have caused the damage was also spoken to by a Police Ombudsman investigator. He said he had been unaware of the allegations against him until he received a letter from the Police Ombudsman’s Office.

After the Public Prosecution Service advised that the case did not reach the threshold for criminal proceedings, the Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire considered the case for misconduct issues. He concluded that the officer had committed a number of misconduct offences and recommended that he be disciplined.

The PSNI has since implemented the Police Ombudsman’s recommendation.

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