Police did not lack urgency in response to reported mugging in south Belfast: Police Ombudsman

Published Date: 28.01.2016

A Police Ombudsman investigation has allayed concerns that police lacked urgency in their response to a reported mugging in south Belfast last year.

A woman was left visibly shaken after reporting that a man, possibly armed with a knife, stole £400 from her during the incident last April.

A local businessman who helped the woman after the incident said an officer failed to properly assist when told that the suspected attacker was nearby.

The businessman explained that he was given a description of the attacker by a witness and then went with a friend to a nearby address where he believed they might find him. 

They found a man matching the description, and also noticed two police officers standing nearby.

The man instructed his friend to keep an eye on the suspect while he went to speak to an officer.

However, he complained that the officer told him he was dealing with another incident and would not go with him to see the suspect. Even when told that the man may be armed, the businessman said the officer simply advised him to call 999.

He also claimed that when two other officers did come to deal with the incident one was rude to him - shouting at him to stop talking to the woman as he tried to confirm that the man he had seen was the attacker.

Police Ombudsman investigators reviewed police documentation relating to the incident and spoke to the officers involved.

They established that the first officer spoken to by the businessman had been unable to assist as he was dealing with a situation in which a man’s safety was at risk.

The officer also stated that he was aware from police radio transmissions that other police units were already on their way to deal with the attack on the woman.

He added that he contacted the police control room to update them with the information about the suspect’s location provided by the businessman. Police records confirmed the officer’s account.

The officer who was alleged to have been rude to the businessman when he was trying to speak to the victim of the attack denied the allegation. His colleague also explained that officers had a duty to keep witnesses and injured parties apart, and said the officer had been polite but had to be firm to ensure that happened.

The Police Ombudsman investigator concluded that there were no grounds for disciplinary action against any of the officers who dealt with the incident.

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