Derry Journal

Ombudsman Asked To Look At CS Spray Incidents

Tuesday 10th August 2004

The PSNI has asked the Ombudsman's Office to investigate any incidents in which the new CS Spray is used.

The request follows a meeting between the Deputy Chief Constable Paul Leighton and the Police Ombudsman's Office.

Police say the spray is a hand held directional spray device for use in violent incidents but not in situations of major public disorder.

In recent weeks, the spray has been used during a number of early morning incidents in Derry.

Speaking following the meeting, Deputy Chief Constable Leighton said: "It is my intention to refer all uses of CS spray to the Ombudsman's Office under Regulation 55(4) of the 1998 Police Act for investigation until the end of 2004 when this practice will be reviewed".

"The Police Service had previously approached the Ombudsman's Office and asked if it wished to treat CS use in the same way as baton rounds. They did not feel that this was necessary. "However, in the interests of openness and to ensure that we learn all lessons possible for our use of CS spray, I have gained their agreement to investigate and report on all such uses in these initial months".

"The Patten Report recommended that police should increase the number of options at their disposal which might reduce reliance on, or defer resort to, the plastic baton round. The introduction of CS Incapacitant Spray provides police with an additional less lethal option as part of a graduated response to any situation where police or a member of the public may be subjected to attack or violence".

"CS Incapacitant Spray is a hand held directional spray device, it is not an alternative to baton rounds, nor is it a tool for deployment in incidents of major public disorder. "Its use, however, may be appropriate in violent incidents such as pub fights where an officer may use it to defend him/herself or others or to carry out an arrest".

"The decision to voluntarily refer all cases to the Ombudsman will ensure that we learn all lessons possible for our use of CS Spray".

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