Northern Ireland

Officers disciplined over Stoneyford response

Police Ombudsman Al Hutchinson
The police response was investigated by Ombudsman Al Hutchinson's office

Four police officers have been disciplined for not doing enough to investigate attacks on Catholic families in a County Antrim village.

The Police Ombudsman has confirmed it examined how the officers conducted investigations into a series of attacks in Stoneyford outside Lisburn.

The Irish News was shown a letter from an ombudsman investigator to a Catholic family intimidated from the village.

It said a number of mistakes had been made by police.

"As a result of what you and others have complained about, police officers have been disciplined, police processes have been evaluated and more rigorous procedures have been implemented," the newspaper quotes the letter.

"Unfortunately, the further back one goes the more disjointed and unfocused the police response to the problems faced by residents in the village becomes."

The PSNI confirmed that in relation to complaints made about policing in Stoneyford in 2005/6 officers were given "advice and guidance in relation to their actions".

However, no officers have been disciplined in relation to a complaint made in 2008, as had been previously thought.

That complaint related to an incident in which Sinn Fein assembly member Paul Butler was attacked in the village.

Prosecutors had to drop charges after police sent the file to the wrong place.

Mr Butler welcomed the ombudsman's findings.

"It confirms what we have been saying for many years, that the police failed to protect the Catholic community in that village," he said.

"Their policing plan, it says in this report, was disjointed and wasn't effective.

"The reality is that many of the families who were intimidated out of that village, nobody's been arrested or convicted for those crimes."

However, Mr Butler said he believed more than four officers should be disciplined over the investigations.

"While I welcome the fact that there are these recommended disciplinary proceedings against four PSNI officers, I do think that at the leadership level of the PSNI in Lisburn there were failings," he said.

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