A police officer has been disciplined after a driver escaped punishment for knocking down a pedestrian in Derry in December 2015.
It follows a Police Ombudsman investigation which found that the officer failed to properly investigate the incident and did not provide information requested by the Public Prosecution Service.
She also failed to update the victim on the progress of the case, and did not record details of telephone conversations with her.
Almost six months after the collision and still suffering from her injuries, the victim made a complaint to the Police Ombudsman’s office about the police handling of the case.
She explained that she had been crossing at a junction when she was struck by a car and thrown across the bonnet before landing on the road. She said the driver stopped briefly further down the road and shouted “are you OK”, before driving off. However, she later returned and was spoken to and breathalysed by police.
The victim suffered injuries to her knees, bruising across her body and a chipped bone in her ankle, and was taken to hospital for treatment. She reported that the only contact she received from police following the collision was a phone call two days later. She said the investigating officer told her that as the driver had “no previous”, police would be recommending that she undertake a driving course.
She added that the officer had promised to keep her informed, but said she had heard nothing more despite calling and leaving messages.
Several months later the woman wrote to the police and PPS to express her concern, and to make it clear she considered that a driving course did not “fit the crime.” This prompted the PPS to request further information from the investigating officer. The officer failed over a number of months to respond to calls and emails from the PPS, before finally admitting that she had no record that the driver had admitted driving carelessly.
The PPS were therefore unable to require the driver to undertake a road safety course, and the officer’s failure to provide other evidence – such as witness statements - also meant that the driver could not be prosecuted.
The Police Ombudsman investigator noted: “The officer failed to conduct a full investigation and did not comply with instructions or act on information from the PPS, with the ultimate result that the driver escaped any form of sanction.
“In addition, by failing to return the victim’s calls, the officer did not treat her with sensitivity and respect.”
The investigator’s recommendation the officer should be disciplined has since been implemented by the police.