Published Date: 02.06.2015
The Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, has said that a police officer who examined hours of CCTV footage in a bid to identify an individual responsible for an assault should be ‘commended’ for her investigation.
The Ombudsman looked at the actions of the officer after a complaint that the police had not identified an individual who carried out an assault on a man in Belfast, despite having strong leads on the case.
It was alleged that the police had not acted on information from a female eyewitness who had pointed out the attacker to them at the time, and that despite the number of cameras in the area the investigating officer had not checked any of the CCTV footage.
Ombudsman investigators obtained a copy of the witness statement provided to police by the woman alleged to have identified the attacker. It was apparent from this statement that the individual had not seen the assault, nor had they pointed out the suspect to the officer.
The woman was contacted by the Ombudsman’s Office but failed to cooperate with the investigation.
During interview the investigating officer stated that nobody at the scene had pointed out the attacker to her, and that she and her colleague immediately obtained and reviewed nearby CCTV. No evidence of an assault taking place could be found.
Within days the investigating officer revisited the scene and seized further CCTV. Despite viewing a considerable amount of footage the officer was unable to locate any evidence of the assault.
The Ombudsman’s investigation established that while updating the victim and his family the officer explained that there was no footage of the incident. This mistakenly led them to believe that CCTV had not been checked.
However, as the investigation into the complaint revealed, the officer had spent some considerable time and effort on the case, and had personally viewed hours of footage in an effort to locate any evidence. It found that she had in place a sound investigation strategy that was clearly outlined and was still actively being progressed.
“It is clear that this officer has been responsible for conducting a strong investigation and I believe that she should be commended for her efforts so far to find those responsible for the assault. I can find no evidence of misconduct in this case”, said Dr Maguire.