Police Officer Disciplined After Man Has Drugs Caution Overturned

A police officer has been disciplined after a man had a caution for the possession of Class B drugs overturned as a result of an irregularity in the police search of his home.

A Police Ombudsman investigation found that an officer had changed the address on a search warrant signed by a Lay Magistrate.

The issue led the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) to rescind an adult caution imposed on the householder after a small quantity of herbal cannabis was found during the search, which took place in Belfast in January 2016.

The Chief Constable referred the matter to the Police Ombudsman for independent investigation.

Enquiries established that the officer had been responsible for preparing the necessary paperwork for the search, which included a warrant application and the warrant itself.
News Image
When interviewed, he said the correct address had been on the application, but the address on the actual warrant was incorrect. Both documents were signed by the Lay Magistrate.

He said the error was only drawn to his attention when the search was about to begin.

In the circumstances, he said that as the Lay Magistrate had authorised the correct address on the warrant application, he did not believe that it would be necessary to have a new warrant prepared.

He then decided to strike out the wrong address and write in the correct one – a step he described as an "administrative error" perhaps due to a lack of concentration or distraction.

The Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, noted that the officer's actions had resulted in the PPS rescinding the adult caution imposed on the householder, and removing it from his record.

The police officer has since been disciplined.


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

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.
23 June 2016
Police Officers Disciplined For Failing To Tell Doctor About Woman's Head Injuries
Two police officers have been disciplined after they failed to let their colleagues and a police doctor know that a woman had sustained a head injury, a Police Ombudsman investigation has concluded. The woman died from bleeding to the brain on 24 February 2014, the day after she suffered the injury.
14 December 2018
Police Disciplined Over Coleraine Pub Fight
PSNI failings compromised an investigation into off-duty police officers involved in a fight with members of the public, the Police Ombudsman has found.
15 May 2015
Man's Body Recovered From Bangor Marina
Police have launched an investigation after the body of a man was recovered from Bangor Marina on Wednesday, 13 May. Police received a report that a man had entered the water shortly after 10.15am. Emergency services and police attended the scene and the body was recovered from the water. Police are not treating the death as suspicious.