Police officers disciplined over pub assault probe failings

Two police officers have been disciplined after the Police Ombudsman found serious failings in the way police investigated an assault in Derry.

Tuesday, 15th November 2016, 1:55 pm
Updated Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 5:13 pm
Dr Michael Maguire, the Police Ombudsman. (Picture Colm O'Reilly Presseye)

The Ombudsman probe centred on the PSNI response to an assault in a pub in Derry in June 2015.

The victim had reported the incident to police and provided them with contact details for himself and a witness.

He also advised that he believed the incident had been captured on the bar’s CCTV system.

About six months later, having had no contact from police except for receiving an information and support leaflet in the post, the man lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman’s Office.

He said that he had tried to contact the investigating officer about a month after the incident but was unable to get through and had not heard from her since.

He said he believed police had done nothing to investigate the case, beyond initially recording a statement.

A Police Ombudsman investigator examined police records, which showed that the only action taken by the investigating officer had been to view city centre TV footage two months after the incident - even though it had been ready for examination within two weeks.

The officer admitted having failed to contact the named witness, and failing to secure CCTV footage from the pub.

Staff at the bar told a Police Ombudsman investigator that the incident had been captured on CCTV, but the footage had since been recorded over.

Police records showed that the officer had only viewed the city centre CCTV footage before asking her supervisor for permission to close the case on the basis that a suspect could not be identified.

The supervisor, who had recently been promoted and said she was getting to grips with her new role, authorised the case closure.

She told a Police Ombudsman investigator that she had confidence in the officer and had simply assumed that all necessary lines of enquiry had been completed, and accepted the service provided to the victim was not of standard expected.

Both officers have since been disciplined over the failings.