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Officer disciplined for wrongly penalising man over 'raised fist'

By Adrian Rutherford

A PSNI officer who wrongly issued a penalty to a man for allegedly threatening to hit a woman has been disciplined.

It follows an investigation by the Police Ombudsman's office, headed by Michael Maguire (right), which found the officer had made a series of errors.

The man received a discretionary disposal - which does not result in a criminal record - after a woman told police that he had raised his fist at her during a row.

The woman claimed that this had left her fearing for her own safety.

However, the man later told an investigator from the office of Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire (right) that he had not raised his fist.

He described the incident as "a load of hot air" which had lasted no more than 10 seconds.

He alleged that the investigating officer had not followed proper procedure before administering a discretionary disposal in relation to the incident.

He provided a 15-minute long audio recording, made on his mobile phone, of his conversation with police when two officers arrived to discuss the woman's complaint.

The Police Ombudsman investigator reviewed the recording and interviewed the officers involved.

She established that the investigating officer had breached police procedure in a series of ways.

He had administered the discretionary disposal without a "clear and reliable admission of guilt", as is required. He also failed to caution the man or obtain his consent for the use of the scheme.

In addition, the officer breached guidelines by using the scheme when there was not enough evidence for a reasonable prospect of a prosecution.

The woman had made no formal statement of complaint and had made it clear she did not wish the matter to go to court.

The Police Ombudsman investigator recommended that the officer should be disciplined for these errors, and also recommended that police should consider overturning the discretionary disposal.

The PSNI implemented both recommendations.

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