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PSNI failure to get in contact with woman did not lead to prosecution over concert tickets

Published 16/02/2016

A woman's complaint that a failure by police to contact her led to her being prosecuted for the fraudulent sale of concert tickets has been rejected by the Police Ombudsman.

The woman had admitted fraudulently selling a number of tickets for a music concert in Belfast in the summer of 2014, but had been told by police that prosecution might be avoided if she took steps to repay the money and the injured parties were agreeable.

She said the investigating officer asked her to gather all the phone numbers of those who had bought the tickets and understood that the officer would then contact her to make arrangements for the money to be repaid.

The woman said that, having gathered all the required information, she heard nothing from police for two months until she received a letter from the Investigating Officer informing her that a file was being prepared for prosecution.

She admitted that she had received some missed calls from a withheld number during this time, but was unable to check whether these had been from police as she could not return the calls and did not know the name of the investigating officer.

When contacted by the Police Ombudsman's Office, the officer said she had made repeated attempts to contact the woman on her mobile phone, but had got no answer and had not been able to leave a message.

The officer also stated that the woman had been informed that any calls made by police would come up as a withheld number.

Another officer added that the woman had been given a form with the investigating officer's name on it.

A check of phone records from the relevant police station showed that police had made a total of 12 phone calls to the woman's mobile, nine of which were made before she was advised that a file was being prepared for prosecution.

The Police Ombudsman investigator concluded that police had made every effort to contact the woman before preparing a prosecution file, and closed the complaint as not substantiated.

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