A police officer and his superior, who both admitted to failures in the investigation of an assault on a man in Bangor, have been disciplined following recommendations by the Police Ombudsman’s office.
The police constable and his sergeant both received written warnings for failure in duty following a complaint by a man assaulted in a club in the town after a Christmas party.
The man from north Belfast, who had initially reported the assault to an officer outside the premises immediately after the incident in December 2016, said that not only had his complaint not been properly investigated but that the PSNI had failed to update him on the progress of the case.
Following investigations by Police Ombudsman staff, the officer’s supervisor was also included in the complaint for failure to adequately supervise an officer in his command.
The complainant, who had been attending his works Christmas party before moving on to the club, told Police Ombudsman staff he had been assaulted by a male he didn’t know; the event had been witnessed by his colleagues; and that the male and his two friends had subsequently been removed by security staff.
The complainant then reported the assault to a police officer outside the premises before identifying and pointing out the three males to him. The officer suggested he seek medical treatment for a cut to his face sustained in the assault and report the incident the next day. However, on contacting police the following day, the man was told no report had been logged.
After identifying this police officer, Police Ombudsman staff found that he was not in fact the investigating officer and that he had passed the relevant details on to the appointed officer. The first officer did have the name of two males pointed out to police but did not believe they were suspects.
During an interview with Police Ombudsman investigators, the appointed officer said he had taken a statement from the injured party when they eventually arranged to meet three weeks later and had photographed the scar from his injury. Less than two weeks later the officer went off on sick leave for almost three months during which time the complaint had not been reallocated. On his return he emailed the complainant apologising for the delay and agreeing to follow up on the investigation.
However, he admitted to Police Ombudsman staff that he did not look at the case and further, that he had not attempted to speak to any of the security staff working at the time of the incident. He also admitted that he had not asked his colleague on duty on the night why he did not think the two identified males were suspects and made no attempt to contact them.
The officer acknowledged that he had not conducted a thorough investigation into the incident and had failed to keep the complainant updated on the case.
Police Ombudsman staff also interviewed the officer’s sergeant in relation to his handling of the case. He, too, accepted there were failings in the investigation as well as in his supervision of the officer.
Both police officers were disciplined by the PSNI’s Legacy and Justice (Discipline) Department. No misconduct issues were identified in relation to the constable initially informed of the assault.