Police acted properly in missing case

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Police made all reasonable efforts to locate a missing Londonderry man and to investigate whether he had been mugged, the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman has found.

The man, who had been reported missing by his wife, was found lying unconscious and injured in a street in Londonderry.

He was later traced by police to a hospital where he was being treated for injuries which medics believed had been caused by either a fall or an assault.

The man had been drinking and had no recollection of how he sustained his injuries or came to be unconscious.

Neither did he know where his mobile phone had gone to.

His wife later complained that police had failed to properly investigate her report that her husband was missing and subsequent concerns that he had been attacked and robbed.

When interviewed, the investigating officer said he spoke to the man’s wife, gained her consent to make checks at local hospitals, and let her know when he had found him.

He added that he had investigated the alleged assault, even though the man had made no formal allegation as he had failed to keep an appointment to make a statement.

Police records showed that the officer made enquiries to recover any relevant CCTV footage and identify potential witnesses, although this failed to throw any light on how the man sustained his injuries.

Other records confirmed that the officer had also sought to secure communications data to help determine the location of the missing phone, but this had been refused on cost grounds.

The Police Ombudsman investigator concluded that in the absence of any further information from the injured man as to what had happened, the officer had no further reasonable lines of enquiry to explore.

She concluded that the officer had responded appropriately to the missing person’s report, and in the circumstances had conducted appropriate enquiries to determine whether there had been an assault or theft.