A police officer has been disciplined after a Police Ombudsman investigation found that for 10 months he did “virtually nothing” to progress an investigation into an assault which left a Co Down schoolboy with extensive injuries.
The boy sustained a broken front tooth, a suspected broken wrist, a black eye and bruising when he was punched and kicked during the incident in 2014.
A Police Ombudsman investigation into a complaint from the boy’s mother found that the officer made some initial enquiries, but then failed to progress the case in any significant way for 10 months.
During this time, his mother made repeated attempts to contact the officer, with no success. She tried the number he had given her, and left a message, but received no reply.
She later tried to contact him via the police non-emergency 101 number, which she called three times. She still received no response from him, even after the call handler advised during the third call that the officer’s sergeant would be informed.
The only time during this 10 month period that she did manage to speak to the officer, was when he returned a call after she had learned that he had failed to submit paperwork relating to the case.
In June 2015, almost a year after the incident, the boy’s mother made a complaint about the lack of progress on the case and lack of communication from the officer.
When interviewed by a Police Ombudsman investigator, the officer could provide no valid reason for the delay. He stated only that he had been busy with a number of other cases and had, on a number of occasions, been extracted from his investigative role to perform other duties.
He added that he had forgotten the password for his answerphone and had not used that number for a long time, but accepted he had received one message which he failed to return.
The Police Ombudsman investigator said it was “unacceptable” that the officer had provided the boy’s mother with a contact number which he did not use.
When asked why it had taken almost a year for him to secure consent to access the boy’s medical and dental records, the officer said he had forgotten about it. He also admitted incorrectly dating a statement taken from the boy.
The PSNI has since implemented a recommendation by the Police Ombudsman investigator that the officer should be disciplined.