02/02/2016

Police Officer Disciplined For Failing To Investigate Suspected Drunk Driver

A police officer failed to make adequate enquiries to identify a suspected drunk driver who drove off following a crash, a report by the Police Ombudsman has concluded.

The investigation found that despite being told by bar staff that the suspect had been drinking and that he had recently been released from prison, the officer, who has now been disciplined, failed to ask for his name to assist follow up enquiries.

The collision happened in Co Antrim in June 2014 after a man drove into the rear of a woman's car. The woman said that the man appeared drunk, and when she told him she was calling the police, he jumped back into his car and drove off through a red light.

The woman and her brother later went to a nearby bar and viewed CCTV footage from which she was able to identify the suspected drink driver. She said the barman told them the man's name, said he was just out of prison and confirmed that he had been drinking.

The woman said the information was passed on to the investigating police officer, but complained that the officer failed to seize the CCTV footage and did not respond to a series of phone calls.
News Image
When interviewed, the officer explained that she had not received messages left for her as her police phone had been left in for repair. Enquiries confirmed this to have been the case.

She added that she had gone to the bar to seize the footage, but was told that an engineer would be required to download the footage to a disc. She left her contact details, but later discovered that by the time the engineer called at the bar, the footage had been recorded over.

The officer said she had made other enquiries to identify the suspect, including circulating a possible car registration number to police patrols, but had found no useful information. It was later established that the female driver had failed to note the correct registration number of the other vehicle.

The officer accepted that she should have asked the barman for the name of the person in the CCTV footage, but said she believed at the time that she would have been unable to progress the case without the CCTV footage.

The Police Ombudsman investigator concluded that in failing to ask for a name for the suspect, the officer had failed to progress an important line of enquiry. He recommended that the officer be disciplined and the PSNI has since implemented the recommendation.

(CD/LM)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

23 January 2020
Man Threatened With Firearm In Co Down
A man has been left traumatised after he was threatened with a firearm in Ballywalter, Co Down. Police said the victim was approached by two males on a red motorbike in the Bartley's Wood area at around 6.15pm on Tuesday 21 January.
06 August 2014
Police Vehicle Contracts Arrest - Man Released
A 54-year-old member of police staff who was arrested in County Antrim as part of ongoing investigations into the awarding of vehicle contracts has been released. The man was arrested on suspicion of misconduct in public office and has been taken to a police station in Belfast for questioning.
28 March 2007
House of Lords vote for ‘50/50’ police force
The House of Lords has renewed the 50/50 recruitment rule for the PSNI by a majority of 44. It puts into practice a recommendation made in 1999 by Lord Patten that the local police force should be split evenly between Catholics and Protestants. The result of the vote was 141 to 97.
20 January 2020
Pedestrian Dies In Co Antrim Collision
A male pedestrian has died following a road crash in Co Antrim. The incident, involving a vehicle and a pedestrian, happened on the Glenavy Road in Maghaberry at around 11.30pm on Sunday 19 January. The man was pronounced dead at the scene.
27 May 2015
Two Police Officers Disciplined Over Report Of Indecent Approach To Children
Two police officers have been disciplined following a complaint about a police response to reports that a man had approached three young girls and asked them to touch him in east Belfast last year.