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PSNI officer disciplined for failing to investigate homophobic attack complaint

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An investigation by the Police Ombudsman's Office recommended the officers be disciplined

An investigation by the Police Ombudsman's Office recommended the officers be disciplined

An investigation by the Police Ombudsman's Office recommended the officers be disciplined

A PSNI officer has been disciplined for failing to properly investigate an alleged homophobic attack in Co Fermanagh.

The attack happened at a bar in December 2018 when a bar worker said he was subjected to homophobic abuse by a customer and assaulted.

He sustained a split lip and chipped teeth when he was punched in the face by the customer at the end of the night.

The investigating PSNI officer recommended that the attacker receive a Community Resolution Notice (CRN), a means of dealing with low-level offending, rather than face prosecution.

A complaint was made by the victim claiming the officer let the attacker off with a caution as he was well-known in the community.

When interviewed by a Police Ombudsman investigator, the officer admitted he made the recommendation for a CRN without looking at the victim's injuries.

The officer claimed not to have known there were any photos, but the investigator found an entry in the police case file which should have alerted him to their existence.

In addition, the officer also said there was a lack of medical evidence, as the victim had not been examined by a doctor.

“However, in my view, the photographs alone were grounds for investigating the potential offence of Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm (AOABH),” said the Police Ombudsman investigator.

“It was also concerning that the officer recorded no reasonable rationale for his decision to disregard the alleged hate crime element, nor for treating the incident as common assault rather than AOABH.”

An internal police quality assurance exercise found the officer's CRN recommendation to have been a "significant failing".

The Police Ombudsman recommended the officer be disciplined by the PSNI - a recommendation that has since been acted upon.

No action was taken against the officer's line manager, who approved the CRN decision. The line manager said she made the decision based on the information of the investigating officer.

By the time of the Ombudsman's probe, the officer had been ordered to obtain the photos of the victim's injuries, to complete a more thorough investigation, and to submit a file to the Public Prosecution Service.

Belfast Telegraph