Published Date: 26.10.2021
An investigation by the Police Ombudsman’s Office has found no evidence to support a complaint that police failed to return £250 to a man who had been arrested on suspicion of drugs offences.
The money was among items removed from the man when he was detained in police custody in Co. Down following his arrest.
In October 2020, the man’s mother made a complaint to the Police Ombudsman’s Office alleging that officers at the police station had told her they had seized the money in connection with their enquiries.
She said her son’s wallet had been empty when it was returned to him, yet when she enquired about the money several months later she was told it had been given back when her son was released from custody.
The woman informed her solicitor who made enquiries with police and advised that the police custody record had been signed to acknowledge that the money had been returned.
However, the woman told a Police Ombudsman investigator that the relevant signature had not been written by her son.
Police records indicated that money had been returned.
The investigator made enquiries with the police custody sergeant who dealt with the man’s release and the officer who had arrested him.
Both denied that police would have had any reason to retain the money in connection with their enquiries. They said it had been stored during his time in detention and returned to him on his release, as indicated by the custody record.
CCTV footage from the custody suite was not available by the time the woman made the complaint, and her son did not provide an account of what had happened.
Enquiries established that the signature relating to the return of the money had been penned within minutes of other signatures on the custody record. The complainant confirmed she had been with her son at the time and had seen no one else signing the record.
The investigator noted that the signatures on the record differed from one another – some contained an initial and a full surname, others only initials.
The Police Ombudsman investigator also examined police records and found no reference to money having been retained by police.
The Police Ombudsman, Mrs Marie Anderson, concluded that the evidence did not support the woman’s claim that police had failed to return the money and did not uphold her complaint.