Belfast Telegraph

Police officer disciplined over 'drink-drive' crash probe

A police officer has been disciplined after she failed to ask witnesses the name of a suspected drink-driver who fled the scene of an accident.

Despite being told by bar staff that the man had been recently released from prison, the officer did not adequately inquire about his identity, according to the policing watchdog.

The collision happened in Co Antrim in June 2014 when an apparently drunk man drove into the back of a woman's car. He fled through a red light on hearing police were being called.

The female driver and her brother later went to a nearby bar and viewed CCTV footage which showed the crash. She said the barman told them the suspect's name, said he was just out of prison, and confirmed that he had been drinking.

The information was passed to the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

However the matter was referred to the Police Ombudsman over claims the officer failed to seize the CCTV and did not respond to a series of phone calls.

When interviewed by ombudsman investigators, the officer said her police phone was being repaired and she had not received messages. Inquiries confirmed her account to be true.

She added that she had gone to the bar to access the footage, but was told an engineer would be needed to download the footage on to disc. By the time the engineer arrived, the recording had been wiped.

Other inquiries to identify the suspect, including circulating a possible car registration to patrols, also proved fruitless. It was later established the female driver had noted down an incorrect number plate.

The police officer accepted she should have asked the barman for the name of the person in the CCTV footage but at the time believed she would have been unable to progress the case without the recording.

The Police Ombudsman investigator concluded that in failing to ask for a name for the suspect, she had been unable to progress an important line of inquiry.

The PSNI has since implemented the ombudsman's discipline recommendation.


From Belfast Telegraph