Northern Ireland

PSNI officer who drank vodka in homeless hostel cautioned

Police Ombudsman

A PSNI officer has been disciplined after climbing in the window of a County Antrim homeless hostel and spending several hours drinking with residents.

He was found to have breached the hostel's policies.

A Police Ombudsman investigation found that the officer, who was off-duty and not in uniform, had a bottle of vodka when he persuaded a resident to let him in through a window

The incident happened in April 2016.

He later said he was aware of the hostel's no alcohol and no visitors policy and the fact its residents included those who were alcohol dependent.

'Bring the police into disrepute'

He also accepted that he had told residents he was a police officer and had produced his warrant to prove it.

The Police Ombudsman found his behaviour had the potential to bring the police into disrepute.

When interviewed, the officer accepted he had been under the influence of alcohol and that he had made arrangements to visit a friend who lived there.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The officer, who was off-duty and not in uniform, had a bottle of vodka with him when he climbed in the window (stock image)

Evidence suggested the officer was drinking with residents between 11pm and about 1.45am.

He left in a taxi to buy food at a local takeaway, but when he returned with two large bags of food and eight soft drinks, hostel staff refused to let him in.

'Foolish'

A member of staff at the hostel said the consumption of alcohol in the facility had the potential to place staff and residents at risk.

The officer accepted his behaviour had been "foolish".

The investigation also found the officer had accessed a friend's police records without authorisation or a policing purpose in May 2013.

He said he been worried about information he had been told about a friend and checked to see if there was any truth to the claims.

He denied sharing the information with anyone, insisting he had accessed the records "momentarily."

After investigating the data breach, the Police Ombudsman submitted a file to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS), which resulted in the officer receiving an adult caution.