Police Ombudsman clears officers over prisoner’s self-harming

Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire
Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire

No PSNI officers will face disciplinary action following a Police Ombudsman (PONI) investigation into a prisoner self-harming in a cell.

The incident took place at Enniskillen police station in October 2011 after the man had been arrested in Lisnaskea.

He had been detained on suspicion of criminal damage, disorderly behaviour, assaulting police and resisting arrest and, despite being searched prior to being placed in cell, was able to cut his wrist with part of a cigarette lighter.

On his release to attend court the following day, a police officer noticed the man had a fresh injury to his wrist which had not been noted during two previous medical examinations while in custody.

The man told the officer he had cut himself with a lighter he had found in a cell, and when officers checked the cell they found broken pieces of a lighter on a bench.

A Police Ombudsman’s investigation was launched due to concerns that officers “may have failed in their duty to ensure a proper duty of care” to the prisoner. PONI investigators visited the cell where the lighter had been found and also examined cleaning records for the custody suite. These showed that the cells in the suite had been “deep cleaned” the day before the prisoner arrived.

Three officers on duty at the time were unable to account for how he came to be in possession of the lighter.

Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire said it was possible the prisoner had concealed the item on his person, but said a more intimate search had not been appropriate in the circumstances of his arrest.