Belfast Telegraph

Police failed to take ‘reasonable measures’ to protect damaged car

Officers left the vehicle unattended when they went to find its owner, and when they returned a wallet had been stolen.

Police failed to take reasonable measures to prevent valuables being stolen from a doctor’s car near Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital, a watchdog said.

An officer was with a colleague on the Grosvenor Road in February last year when they saw a vehicle with its hazard lights flashing. A window had been broken, and important personal items could be seen inside.

The officers left the car unattended as they went to find the doctor. When they returned, two more windows had been broken and the items inside, which included a wallet, had been stolen.

The doctor complained to the Police Ombudsman’s Office, alleging that police had failed to take reasonable steps to protect his belongings.

An Ombudsman statement said: “The Police Ombudsman recommended that both officers should be disciplined over their handling of the incident.

“The PSNI accepted that there had been failings by the officer who decided to leave the car unattended, and its professional standards department undertook to ensure these issues would be dealt with.”

One of the officers said leaving the car unattended was the only practical way of contacting the doctor, who she believed was working within the hospital.

She said his mobile had gone to voicemail, and as she knew the hospital switchboard would be busy, she had not called it.

She added that she had tried to reach the valuables, some of which were in the driver’s door pocket, but had been unable to do so.

The officer also stated that she did not believe other police units in the area would have been able to help as she had heard a series of radio transmissions which suggested they were all busy dealing with other incidents.

Ombudsman investigators examined police radio transmissions and found a number of police units had been in the immediate vicinity and may have been able to assist.

No action was taken against the other officer, who played only a supporting role during the incident.

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