Belfast police officer did not racially discriminate against taxi driver, finds Ombudsman

Updated: Feb 19

The Police Ombudsman has cleared a police officer of racially discriminating against a taxi driver who reported that he had been assaulted by a customer in south Belfast.

The taxi driver contacted police in May 2019 to report that the customer had attacked him and damaged his glasses after refusing to pay.

The customer told police that he had been assaulted by the taxi driver, who he said had been driving too fast and had refused to pull over.

The taxi driver later made a complaint to the Police Ombudsman’s Office alleging that the investigating police officer had refused to investigate his allegation, but had pursued the customer’s report about him.

He said that instead of investigating the customer, the police officer offered him a Community Resolution Notice (CRN).

A CRN is a measure designed for low-level offending, and the taxi driver said its use was inappropriate as he had suffered injury and his property had been damaged.

But when a Police Ombudsman investigator examined police records and spoke to the officer involved, she discovered that the driver and customer had both initially agreed that the matter could be dealt with by a CRN.

This agreement was based on the fact that the customer had paid the taxi fare and agreed to pay for the damage to the driver’s glasses.

The agreement fell apart, however, when both parties subsequently made formal allegations of assault against each other. The CRN was cancelled and the officer then investigated the allegations made by both parties.

The Police Ombudsman investigator found the investigation to have been “effective and timely”, and said the police officer had treated both parties fairly.

She also found no evidence to substantiate the taxi driver’s allegations that the officer had failed to respond quickly enough to his text messages, and had not referred him to Victim Support.

She also did not uphold the complaint that the officer had tried to intimidate or unnerve the taxi driver by telling him that another officer wanted to speak to him about an unrelated incident. She described as “reasonable” the officer’s explanation that she did so to avoid the driver having to return to the police station on another occasion.

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