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Two glaring lapses erode public's trust

By Deborah McAleese

Published 11/04/2015

Once can be passed off as a mistake, but twice and you have to question, is there a pattern?

This week the Belfast Telegraph highlighted two cases where police let vital evidence slip through their fingers.

In one incident, officers were offered pictures of a crime suspect fleeing the scene of a burglary in the Stranmillis area of south Belfast. However, they failed to collect the images, taken by writer Malachi O'Doherty, until contacted by this paper almost a week after the crime to ask why they had not requested them. In another case, two months after a suspected creeper burglar was caught on CCTV attempting to enter a number of houses and a car in the Ravenhill Road area of the city, police have still not taken any action.

The man whose security camera captured the suspect is a former police officer and has described the police response as "abysmal".

The Belfast Telegraph has also been contacted about a number of similar incidents which we are currently investigating.

Six months ago Chief Constable George Hamilton warned that due to severe funding cuts policing will now have to "focus on where vulnerability and need is greatest".

However, with incidents like this coming to light, questions have to be asked if police are getting their priorities right.

Large police resources are tied up in serious crime investigations involving terrorism and organised crime.

However, everyday crimes like burglary and anti-social behaviour are matters of great public concern and can be traumatic for victims.

If victims of crime do not feel that they are being taken seriously by police officers, this will have a devastating impact on public confidence in the PSNI.

And if the public think any evidence they have in relation to a crime will be disregarded, fewer people will come forward to assist police.

The PSNI needs to urgently look at what went wrong in these cases.

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