Belfast Telegraph

Police Ombudsman recommends officer disciplined for failure to investigate threat claim

Disciplinary action should be taken against a PSNI officer who failed to secure vital evidence after a person reported being threatened with a sledgehammer, the Police Ombudsman recommended.

An investigation by the The Police Ombudsman's Office office found that the PSNI officer failed in his duty to investigate.

The officer waited four months to seize CCTV footage from the incident at a commercial premises in south Antrim despite being instructed by his supervisor to do so on four separate occasions.

The incident, which happened in June last year, arose out of a dispute around the purchase of a vehicle.

The complainant alleged that the owner of the business had approached him with a raised sledgehammer and told him to get off the premises.

The officer told ombudsman investigators he had contacted the business owner in the days following the complaint.

He said the owner had admitted "seeing red" and lifting the sledgehammer during the incident and confirmed CCTV footage was available but would need to be downloaded.

A week later when the officer contacted the business owner, he was told again it had not been downloaded.

Another week on and the officer's supervisor told him to seize the footage.

But the ombudsman found that the officer "made no effort to do so for another five weeks".

After three further reviews by the officer's supervising sergeant in August, September and October, the officer, on being directed to seize the footage, was told it was no longer available.

The investigation found that as a result of the failure to secure the images, the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) directed no prosecution in the case due to a lack of independent evidence.

The complainant lodged a complaint against the officer with the Ombudsman.

During a formal interview with ombudsman investigators, the officer accepted he had failed to secure vital evidence which may have led to a decision to prosecute by the PPS.

The Police Ombudsman recommended that the police officer be disciplined for failure in duty.

The PSNI accepted there were failures in the police officer's conduct and its Professional Standards Department undertook to ensure the issues would be dealt with.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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