Published Date: Nov 2018
A police officer has been disciplined after breaching a homeless hostel’s policies by climbing in through a window and spending several hours drinking with residents.
A Police Ombudsman investigation found that the officer – who was off-duty and not in uniform at the time - had a bottle of vodka when he persuaded a hostel resident to let him in through a window at the south Co. Antrim facility in April 2016.
He later admitted that he knew the hostel had a no alcohol and no visitors policy, and that its residents included people who were alcohol dependent.
He also accepted that he had told residents that he was a police officer, and had produced his warrant card to prove it.
The officer was disciplined after the Police Ombudsman found that his behaviour had the potential to bring the police into disrepute.
The investigation also found that the officer had accessed a friend’s police records without authorisation or a policing purpose in May 2013. After investigating the data breach, the Police Ombudsman submitted a file to the Public Prosecution Service, which resulted in the officer receiving an adult caution.
When interviewed about the incident at the hostel, the officer accepted that he had been under the influence of alcohol at the time, and explained that he had made arrangements to visit a friend who lived there.
Evidence suggested that the officer was drinking with residents in a room in the hostel between 11pm and around 1.45am. He then left in a taxi to buy food at a local fast food restaurant, but when he returned with two large bags of food and eight soft drinks, hostel staff refused to let him in.
A member of staff at the hostel said the consumption of alcohol in the facility had the potential to place staff and residents at risk.
The officer accepted that his behaviour had been foolish.
When asked about the data breach three years earlier, he explained that he been worried about the implications of information he had been told about a friend, and checked to see if there were any truth to the claims.
He denied sharing the information with anyone, and said he had accessed the records only “momentarily.”