Northern Ireland news

Policewoman disciplined after driver escaped punishment for knocking down pedestrian

The Police Ombudsman recommended that an officer be disciplined over the investigation of a road collision
Marie Louise McConville

A policewoman has been disciplined after a driver escaped punishment for knocking down a pedestrian in Derry in December 2015.

The Police Ombudsman said an investigation found that the officer failed to properly investigate the incident and did not provide information requested by the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).

Almost six months after the collision, the victim made a complaint to the ombudsman's office about the police handling of the case.

She said she had been crossing at a junction when she was struck by a car and thrown across the bonnet before landing on the road.

The woman said the driver stopped briefly and shouted "are you okay?" before leaving the scene but later returned and was spoken to by police.

The victim suffered injuries to her knees, bruising across her body and a chipped bone in her ankle.

She claimed the investigating officer told her that as the driver had "no previous", police would be recommending that she undertake a driving course.

The victim said the officer also promised to keep her informed, but she heard nothing despite calling and leaving messages.

After several months, she wrote to the PSNI and the PPS to express concern that a driving course did not "fit the crime", prompting prosecutors to request further information from the officer.

However, the ombudsman said the officer failed over a number of months to respond to calls and emails, before finally saying she had no record that the driver had admitted driving carelessly.

As a result, the PPS was unable to require the driver to undertake a road safety course and a prosecution was also not possible.

A Police Ombudsman investigator said: "The officer failed to conduct a full investigation and did not comply with instructions or act on information from the PPS, with the ultimate result that the driver escaped any form of sanction.

"In addition, by failing to return the victim's calls, the officer did not treat her with sensitivity and respect".

The Police Ombudsman recommended that the officer be disciplined and "the police have since implemented the recommendation".

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