Force 'sorry' for sloppy response to break-in snaps
Police have apologised for their failure to collect vital photographic evidence of a burglar fleeing the crime scene.
An internal investigation has now been launched into the police response to a burglary in south Belfast last Saturday.
Officers who attended the scene in the Stranmillis area were told by writer Malachi O'Doherty that he had taken photographs of the burglar as he made his escape and offered to provide them as evidence. However, officers requested the images only after the Belfast Telegraph contacted them almost a week later to ask what was keeping them. A senior officer contacted Mr O'Doherty yesterday to say sorry for the blunder and is to meet him next week to apologise in person.
The officer told Mr O'Doherty that he had been "badly let down".
He also advised him that the PSNI was taking the crime very seriously and it had now been passed over to CID officers to investigate. Mr O'Doherty's photographs and a statement have now been received by investigating officers.
He had been out for a walk and was taking photographs on his camera when he heard a burglar alarm. When he looked over he saw a man in a blue hooded top and wearing black gloves fleeing the scene and quickly took photographs of him.
Police came under criticism yesterday for their failure to follow up on Mr O'Doherty's evidence.
DUP Policing Board member Jonathan Craig said he found it "shocking and alarming" and warned it would cause "huge damage to public confidence".
SDLP Policing Board member Dolores Kelly added that it "makes a nonsense of constant requests from the PSNI for witnesses to come forward with information".
"This is sloppy police work and is not acceptable," she said.
The PSNI insisted that tackling burglaries remains a priority for officers. Crime rates in Northern Ireland rose by over 3% last year, with 105,234 recorded crimes.
Just over a quarter of crimes were resolved. Domestic burglaries are one of the biggest problems for all policing districts in the region with more than 5,800 recorded in the past year. Less than 9% resulted in police charges, cautions or discretionary disposals.