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Police officer disciplined after complaint by suspect's solicitor

Published 26/11/2015

Recommendations that the officer be disciplined and receive further training have been implemented by the PSNI
Recommendations that the officer be disciplined and receive further training have been implemented by the PSNI

A police officer has been disciplined for his behaviour towards a solicitor during an interview.

The officer was "too quick" to threaten the solicitor with exclusion after a disagreement over a letter shown to a suspect, the Police Ombudsman said.

Although there was no evidence the officer was unduly aggressive, the investigator said a more conciliatory approach could have resolved the situation.

The ombudsman's office was called in following a complaint from the solicitor.

She alleged the policeman talked over her as she tried to explain the rationale for seeing the letter, then accused her of being obstructive and threatened to have her removed from the interview room.

She said that when she left to raise concerns with the custody sergeant, the officer continued to interview her client.

At one stage, it was claimed, the officer leaned over the table and pointed a pen towards her face.

Statements were obtained from those involved, audio recordings of the interview were examined and CCTV footage from the interview room and the area outside was viewed as part of the ombudsman's investigation.

It concluded the officer should have allowed the solicitor "brief sight" of the letter and, a lthough he was within his rights to continue with the interview when she requested a halt, all parties would have benefited from a break to defuse the situation.

The ombudsman also found that the officer should not have continued the interview while the solicitor was out of the room, and should not have challenged her request to speak with the custody sergeant in private.

However, the allegation that he pointed his pen at her face in an aggressive and adversarial way was not substantiated.

Recommendations that the officer be disciplined and receive further training in aspects of interview technique have been implemented by the PSNI, the ombudsman said.

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