Police cleared of waiting 40 minutes before calling ambulance for boy after alleged assault

Police Ombudsman's office
Police Ombudsman's office

An investigation by the Police Ombudsman’s Office has rejected claims that police waited 40 minutes before summoning help for a boy whose leg had been broken in an alleged assault.

The incident happened in Co Down in June last year. The boy’s mother said her son was chased and tackled to the ground by a shopkeeper who mistakenly believed he had stolen from his shop.

She said her son suffered a broken leg, a black eye and bruising during the incident, and spent a week in hospital after surgery on his leg.

Despite this, she said police had accused him of feigning injury and refused to call an ambulance for 40 minutes.

She also alleged that police had failed to conduct a proper investigation, resulting in the Public Prosecution Service deciding not to prosecute the shopkeeper.

However, when a Police Ombudsman investigator interviewed the investigating police officer and examined police records, it emerged that there were markedly different accounts of what had happened.

The boy claimed that the shopkeeper had kicked him on the knee. He was searched and police found no stolen items in his possession. They noted that his right knee was swollen, his right eye was very red and that he had marks on his neck.

The shopkeeper, however, said the boy had fallen from a wall while running away with two other boys after being disturbed while attempting to steal items from a storage area at the rear of his shop.

Police records also indicated that officers had arrived at the incident within four minutes of receiving a 999 call, and had called for an ambulance four minutes later.

These timings were confirmed by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, whose records showed that an ambulance had arrived at the scene within seven minutes of being requested by police.

It also became clear that the boy’s friends had refused to provide statements to police about what had happened.

The investigator found that police had conducted an appropriate investigation into the alleged assault. All available evidence had been submitted by police to the PPS, which had then directed that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.