Published Date: 01.06.2017
A police officer has been disciplined after a Police Ombudsman investigation found that he had failed to undertake “even the most basic of steps” to investigate a mugging in the Greater Belfast area.
Enquiries showed that the investigating officer failed to examine CCTV footage, made no attempt to interview named witnesses, and did not respond to phone calls from the victim or a letter from his solicitor.
The victim of the attack, which happened in the spring of 2015, was beaten and robbed by a number of men.
Police spoke to the victim on the night of the attack, before an ambulance took him to hospital for treatment.
However, he said it took three weeks and several calls to police before he could make arrangements for a statement to be taken from him.
Victim heard nothing from the officer for a year and a half.
After that, he said he heard nothing more from police for a year and a half, despite leaving a number of messages for the investigating officer. Even when his solicitor wrote a letter to the officer, he said he still received no response.
Enquiries by a Police Ombudsman investigator found that the police officer originally appointed to investigate the case went on sick leave shortly after the incident.
A new investigator was appointed and he took a statement from the victim three weeks after the attack.
When interviewed, this officer said he had been provided only with descriptions of the attackers and had not been directed by his supervisor to obtain CCTV. He identified no other lines of enquiry and said the case was closed pending further evidence.
The Police Ombudsman investigator noted: “It should have been obvious to the officer that witness and CCTV enquiries needed to be made. If the officer had interviewed the witnesses, this may have led to new lines of enquiry.
“The victim also stated that he had identified his attackers on Facebook. Although he was mistaken that he had included this information in his statement to police, as the investigating officer failed to return his calls, this potentially very significant information was never investigated.”
The police have since implemented a recommendation that the officer should be disciplined.
Although failures were also identified in the supervision of the case, no disciplinary action could be taken against any individual officer as a number had performed the role and it was not clear who had been responsible at the relevant time.