Officers disciplined after driver wrongly recommended for prosecution

Published Date: 02.03.2017

Two police officers have been disciplined over failures in an investigation which almost resulted in a woman being wrongly prosecuted following a two vehicle collision in Co. Down.

One of the drivers lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman’s Office that she only avoided being taken to court because her lawyer uncovered evidence that she was not to blame for the crash.

She alleged the investigating officer failed to conduct a proper enquiry and did not act impartially, and claimed the officer’s supervisor had not properly overseen the case.

The collision happened on a single carriageway road in April 2015 and involved two cars travelling in opposite directions. Both vehicles were seriously damaged and a number of people sustained minor injuries.

Enquiries by a Police Ombudsman investigator found that the investigating officer did not take a statement from a man who reported the collision to police.

Officer failed to seek clarification for inconsistencies in evidence or take account of marks on the road.

He also failed to seek clarification for inconsistencies in evidence or take account of marks on the road which would have helped him identify that he had blamed the wrong driver.

However, the investigation did not uphold the woman’s complaints that the officer had been discourteous, or had failed to act in an impartial manner.

The officer explained that although the complainant was the only person cautioned at the scene, this had been based on initial witness accounts. He explained that he had interviewed the other driver after a counter allegation was made against her.

An allegation that the officer and his supervisor failed to take action against a contractor over mud on the road, alleged to have contributed to the collision, was also closed as unsubstantiated.

Police records showed that the investigating officer obtained evidence that the contractor had been making efforts to clean the road, and that no other collisions had been reported in the same area.

The officer was disciplined for the errors in the case, and his supervisor was disciplined for failing to properly supervise the investigation.

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