Police officer disciplined for accessing records on friend's husband
A police officer has avoided prosecution after it emerged she inappropriately accessed information about her friend's estranged husband.
A Police Ombudsman investigation found her personal friendship had compromised her impartiality as a police officer.
The issue was flagged after the husband reported a number of comments which indicated his wife had access to police records about him and his family.
The police officer - who had a friendship with the man's wife - said she had checked related police records, but only as a means of gaining intelligence.
She claimed her friend's husband had passed information to her in the past which had been passed to police, but checked by Police Ombudsman investigators found no evidence this had happened.
The officer admitted the use of a number of other records, but said this had been part of a police operation.
It was also found she had accessed information after the completion of the investigation - something she claimed she had no memory of doing.
Asked why she had been present when her friend's husband had been arrested despite having no role in the investigation, she said she had done so in her lunch break with the purpose of helping her friend with her children.
It was found by Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire her attendance at the arrest had been inappropriate.
“She should have recognised that her attendance at the arrest of her friend’s estranged husband was a conflict of interest,” said Dr Maguire.
“In effect, she allowed her personal friendship to compromise her impartiality.”
He also said she had accessed police information without good reason.
A file on the case was passed to the Public Prosecution Service to consider whether she should be prosecuted for potential breaches of the Data Protection Act and Misconduct in Public Office.
The PPS directed no prosecution, and the PSNI has disciplined the officer under police guidelines.
Belfast Telegraph Digital