Officer failed to progress serious assault case

Published Date: 08.03.2017

A police officer has been disciplined for failing to progress an investigation into a serious assault, even after shortcomings with the case were pointed out to him as a result of an investigation by the Police Ombudsman’s Office.

The officer had been appointed to investigate an incident in Co. Down in 2015, during which a man suffered fractures to both wrists.

The man later lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman’s Office alleging that police had not properly investigated the attack.

When interviewed by a Police Ombudsman investigator, the investigating officer said police had attended the scene, searched a house and made all necessary enquiries, including forensic work.

However, as nobody made a formal complaint about what happened, and as no one had co-operated with his enquiries, the case was closed two months later.

A further five months after that, the man whose wrists were broken made a formal report of a crime.

Officer failed to reopen case when victim made a formal report of a crime.

When the officer was asked why this had not prompted him to reopen the case, he said the statement contained no names, descriptions or other information to help identify the offenders.

He assumed the statement related to a civil injury compensation claim, but accepted that it was a formal complaint about a crime.

He acknowledged that it should have prompted him to make enquiries relating to forensic exhibits which had been retained for examination in the event of a complaint being received.

As this had not happened, the Police Ombudsman investigator recommended that the officer should be disciplined.

The officer also undertook to reopen the case and progress the outstanding enquiries.

But when the investigator made a follow-up check several weeks later, he found that the officer had still not briefed his supervisor about reopening the case nor made any further enquiries.

The investigator stated: “I believe the officer’s actions showed a total disregard to ensuring that those responsible were brought to justice.”

The PSNI has since disciplined the officer.

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