Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Police call at home of man dead 12 years to quiz him over a crime

PSNI officers checked deceased's records but did not see a note that he had passed away
PSNI officers checked deceased's records but did not see a note that he had passed away

Police called at the door of a woman and asked to speak to her son – who had passed away 12 years earlier.

A Police Ombudsman's investigation found that officers called at the property while following up on information they had received about a crime.

Inquiries by the watchdog's investigators showed that officers had checked the deceased's records on the police database, but did not see a note that he had passed away.

The entry had been made on an old police computer system, and while the information had been transferred across to a new database, the record on the new system had not been properly completed so as to highlight that the man was deceased.

It was also established that if checks had been carried out appropriately, police would have realised that there was nothing linking the deceased to another suspect in the case.

The Police Ombudsman concluded that police had failed to conduct sufficient checks before calling at the property, but made no recommendation for disciplinary action as the officer responsible had since left the force.

No other details about the incident were released by the policing watchdog.

In another case a police officer who helped oversee the successful resolution to a long-standing land dispute was internally disciplined after he was found to have acted insensitively by clapping at one stage of the operation.

The officer had been called out to deal with a report that a landowner was being prevented from clearing his field of items – including old cars, a caravan and a lorry container – which belonged to a neighbour.

The landowner had been granted a court injunction authorising the removal of the items, but reported that his neighbour's family were preventing him from doing so. After negotiating between the two parties, the officer secured agreement that the owner of the items would remove them from the field.

A forklift driver was called to assist and the field was eventually cleared, despite difficulty at one stage manoeuvring the lorry container out of the field.

The owner of the items later lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman's Office, claiming that the officer had been one-sided in his handling of the situation.

In particular, he said that when the lorry container was successfully removed from the field, the officer clapped his hands and cheered.

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