Northern Ireland

Muckamore: Police examining 240,000 hours of CCTV

Muckamore Abbey Hospital
Image caption A report about Muckamore Abbey Hospital listed a series of catastrophic failings

Police investigating the alleged abuse of vulnerable patients at Muckamore Abbey Hospital are checking 240,000 hours of CCTV, a court has been told.

Last year, a damning review into safeguarding at Muckamore alleged staff were filmed on CCTV harming patients.

The High Court heard on Thursday that a team of eight police officers has been tasked with examining all the footage.

The details emerged as a further two staff began a legal challenge against a decision to suspend them from nursing.

Last week seven of their colleagues successfully appealed against suspensions imposed on them by their regulatory body, the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

It suspended them from the national nursing register after police began to investigate allegations that vulnerable patients were subjected to physical and mental abuse.

However, last Friday, the High Court ruled there was insufficient evidence for the NMC to take such action.

The seven nurses can now practice in the UK, but remain temporarily suspended by the Belfast Health Trust.

'Centrepiece of investigation'

Thursday's hearing was told the NMC cannot consent to applications to lift suspensions on the other two nurses at this stage because of concerns of the disclosure of information.

Police are not prepared to disclose the CCTV footage at present, fearing that doing so could prejudice the investigation, the court heard.

Concerns were raised about material being disclosed by police and then potentially put to suspects as part of the NMC's regulatory duties.

"There are approximately 240,000 hours of CCTV footage, (and) approximately 90 hours from four individual wards," a barrister representing the PSNI said.

"The reason why police feel it cannot be disclosed at this stage is the CCTV evidence represents the centrepiece of this investigation," the barrister added.

"Patients don't have capacity to provide statements, there aren't witnesses to the events, and the investigation really does focus on the CCTV footage."

The 240,000 hours would add up to more than 27 years' worth of footage in real time.

The court heard that the PSNI has submitted a request to double the number of officers deployed to reviewing the CCTV.

The hearing was adjourned for a week.

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