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Claims PSNI officer provided false information in custody dispute, rejected by Ombudsman

Published 26/07/2016

The child’s mother made a complaint after reading a Social Services report.
The child’s mother made a complaint after reading a Social Services report.

Claims a police officer provided false information to a social worker dealing with a dispute between parents over the custody of their child, have been rejected by the Police Ombudsman.

The child’s mother made a complaint after reading a Social Services report in which the officer was quoted as casting doubt on whether incidents reported by her had actually happened.

The woman had made a series of reports to police in the previous three years, mainly alleging that her partner had verbally abused her, but also that he had threatened to kill and assault her.

She told a Police Ombudsman investigator that she did not know the officer, who had never dealt with any of the incidents she had reported, and questioned whether he had any authority to divulge information about her to the Social Services.

When interviewed by the investigator, the officer said he had received a phone call from a social worker who had asked for information relating to the dispute between the parents.

He accepted that he had only been personally involved in dealing with one of the incidents, but said he had assisted the social worker by looking up police computer records relating to the others.

The officer said that in the incident he had dealt with, the mother’s account had been contradicted by CCTV footage and a witness.

He added that he could not comment on the accuracy of the comments attributed to him in the social worker’s report as he had not seen a copy.

However, the social worker said the officer had told him that police had doubts whether the majority of the incidents reported by the woman had actually happened, given the lack of evidence to support her claims.

When the relevant police records were examined, the Police Ombudsman investigator noted that none of the reports made by the mother were corroborated by CCTV footage, but her account of a number of incidents were contradicted by CCTV evidence or video footage provided by the child’s father.

The Police Ombudsman investigator concluded that the officer had been right to assist the social worker’s enquiries, and had been entitled when doing so “to form an opinion based on the evidence available to him.”

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