20/02/2020

Police Disciplined Over Probe Into Lisburn Collision

A probationary police officer and her line manager have been disciplined for failings in the investigation of a head-on road traffic collision.

A crash in Lisburn in January 2019 saw a motorist suffer a broken wrist and ankle. She later took a court case, during which the suspect driver was acquitted of causing grievous bodily injury by careless driving.

A Police Ombudsman inquiry, launched following a complaint by the injured driver, has since uncovered multiple failings in the initial investigation.

During the court hearing, it emerged that the investigating officer had failed to carry out "fundamental investigative actions" both at the scene of the incident and in follow up enquiries.

The injured driver also alleged that the officer's manager had not properly supervised the case, given that the investigating officer had only three months experience at the time of the incident and had never before investigated an injury road traffic collision.

Watchdog inquiries identified a number of failings, including the officer's failure to take any measurements or note the position of the cars or condition of the road surface at the collision scene.
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She also failed to take useable photographs or to check either car for mechanical malfunction.

In addition, no checks to determine whether either driver had been using their phone immediately prior to the crash were carried out, and the officer didn't follow her manager's instruction to interview the suspect motorist under caution. Rather, she states that she had recorded a witness statement from him under caution.

The Ombudsman also found that no witnesses were approached for a statement until 10 months after the collision. By that stage the witness, who had spoken to the suspect driver shortly after the crash, could not be sure of exactly what had been said.

Watchdog investigators said these failings had "had a negative impact on the court proceedings" and concluded that the investigation "was not conducted in a prompt, thorough, impartial and careful manner."

It was also found that the investigating officer's line manager had not given her "the support and professional guidance required for a probationary officer conducting her first injury road traffic collision investigation".

The PSNI disciplined both officers on the Ombudsman's recommendation.



(JG/MH)

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