"Justifiable reasons" officers not tasked to report of couple being harassed by drink driver

Published Date: Mar 2016

Police had justifiable reasons for not tasking officers to deal with a report that a drink driver had harassed a couple at their home, an investigation by the Police Ombudsman’s Office has concluded.

A man called the non-emergency police 101 number last September to report that a man had driven to his house in Co. Down while under the influence of alcohol, before harassing him and his wife.

Police Ombudsman investigators identified the civilian workers who dealt with the calls, and the police officer who decided how they should be dealt with. Audio recording of the calls were also reviewed. 

 When interviewed, the officer said that as police units were dealing with a series of other incidents he was unable to specifically allocate a unit to investigate the drink driving report.

However, he said checks were made to confirm the identity of the driver and details of his vehicle, and the information was then circulated to police patrols in the area.

He also explained that he considered the reported harassment to have been a disagreement about a commercial matter, and not something which required a police response.

Enquiries by a Police Ombudsman investigator confirmed that while police resources had been unavailable to deal with the drink driving report, details of the driver and his car were circulated to police units in the area.

The investigator also found that the officer was right in treating the reported harassment as a civil matter given that the driver had a valid reason for speaking to the complainant.

He concluded the officer had been required to make a judgement call based on the prioritisation of incidents reported to him, and found no misconduct in the way he decided to deal with them. 

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