Belfast Telegraph

Police ice cream row story sparks hundreds (and thousands) of comments

By Claire Williamson

The revelation that the Police Ombudsman asked prosecutors to consider taking a criminal case against a PSNI officer for allegedly eating an ice cream at the wheel of his police car has split opinions across the province.

Yesterday the Belfast Telegraph revealed a probe was launched by Ombudsman investigators after a member of the public complained that the officer had stopped to buy the ice cream and then driven off while eating it.

The officer was investigated by the watchdog for not being in proper control of a vehicle.

A file was forwarded to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) for consideration, but the PPS decided not to pursue court proceedings against the officer.

Former Assistant Chief Constable Alan McQuillan said it gave the impression of an Ombudsman who was not "fully in control".

He told BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan Show: "You have to start off by querying the mentality of someone who was so outraged by this that they feel the absolute need to report this for a criminal investigation.

"Let me be absolutely clear, if a police officer was driving carelessly because he was doing this then that is something that should be dealt with."

He added: "One has to say it gives the impression of a Police Ombudsman that is not fully in control and is just a sausage machine."

Comments flooded in to the Belfast Telegraph Facebook page. One posted: "Seriously? I wish the only thing in life I had to worry about was a policeman eating ice cream. What sad person actually takes the time to complain about such nonsense."

Another said: "No different than using a mobile phone while driving."

Tom Burns, chairman of the Driving Instructor Association, said: "Realistically, every one of us when we drive a car, releases one hand from the steering wheel hundreds of times to change gear. Most of us can drive quite safely and under control by using one hand, the problem if you are eating an ice cream most of us can't consume an ice cream within a few seconds.

"So there it would come probably in the fact of: 'Was the officer concerned really in control of the vehicle?'" DUP Policing Board member Jonathan Craig said it was an issue that could have been handled internally.

"The cost of it and the complications involved in that, it's tying up resources within the Ombudsman's office," he said.

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