Northern Ireland

PSNI officers disciplined for mistakes and failures in bomb response

Michael Maguire
Image caption Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire said it was fortunate no one was killed when PSNI mistakes led to a failure to identify and warn the target of an imminent bomb attack

Mistakes made by police officers responding to an imminent bomb threat could have resulted in death, Northern Ireland's police watchdog has said.

Three officers have been disciplined after the Police Ombudsman found a series of failings in the 2014 case.

Officers identified the wrong location and warned the wrong person about the viable bomb, the investigation found.

It also found that a designated police phone line that receives information about bomb threats was not staffed.

Two officers, who were in a supervisory position, later admitted failing to arrange proper cover to ensure the phone would be answered.

The bomb, which failed to explode, was found about an hour after the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) was first warned about the impending attack.

The warning had been made to a third-party organisation, which then tried to call the police on the established bomb threat phone number.

Unable to get through, the organisation's call was transferred to a lower ranking officer who made "inadequate" inquiries about the target and location of the bomb.

This resulted in inaccurate information being passed to a duty inspector.

In a statement, Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire said: "The outcome of this incident could have very much more serious.

"The targets of this attack were, in effect, failed by the police. I have recommended that police put in place, as a matter of urgency, measures to prevent a recurrence."

However, Mr Maguire said the sanctions imposed by the PSNI on the supervisory officers were at a lower level than his report had recommended.