A police officer found to have grabbed a youth by his coat and shaken him while using abusive language has been disciplined following a Police Ombudsman (PONI) investigation.
The incident took place in the Craigavon area in November 2013 after police responded to a report of youths causing annoyance. Four officers attended the scene and noticed a number of youths in a field.
Three youths, including one who lodged a complaint with the Police Ombudsman’s office, subsequently provided statements that they were in a field when they saw four or five people approaching them.
They claimed they began to walk away but found their path blocked by a canal. They also recalled that a police officer then ran towards them, grabbed one by the coat and shook him roughly from side to side while screaming abusive and threatening remarks. The youth making the complaint said he had been frightened by the experience and feared he was going to be thrown into the canal. He was then searched.
When nothing was found he was told by the officer to leave the area. He was not injured as a result of the incident.
The officer involved was identified and when interviewed confirmed he had gone to the scene of the reported youths with three colleagues.
He said the youths ran off and he gave chase before catching up with one of them near the canal. The officer claimed he thought the youth was going to assault him or run off, so he grabbed hold of him and conducted a search for drugs.
He said he then advised the youths to leave the area and to stay away.
The officer told a PONI investigator he had used minimal force to restrain the youth, but denied having assaulted him as suggested. His account was only partially corroborated by his colleagues.
The investigator prepared a report for the PPS, which directed that the officer should not be prosecuted. However, the investigator concluded that the officer’s actions had been “oppressive and disproportionate”. In particular, it was found that there was no need for the officer to have shaken the youth, or use language deemed “inappropriate and unprofessional”.
In line with the PONI recommendation, the PSNI has since subjected the officer to disciplinary action.