Daily Ireland

Children’s commissioner calls for stop on 50,000 plastic bullet order

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The PSNI is about to purchase a huge batch of the controversial new plastic bullet, despite objections from the Children’s Commissioner and victims’ groups.
The new bullets - referred to as the Attenuated Energy Projectile (AEP) - are effectively a traditional plastic bullet with sponge on the end.
They will continue to be fired from the same guns at the same velocity as the current plastic bullets but require PSNI members to be re-trained.
The new AEP plastic bullet will be introduced by the British Army in the North, as well as by police forces throughout Britain in coming months.
The purchase is imminent and it is understood the PSNI believes it does not require authority for the move from the Policing Board.
Up to 50,000 of the new AEP plastic bullets could be purchased by the PSNI at a cost of approximately £7 each.
PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde will give a presentation about the plan to the Policing Board next Wednesday, 2 March. However, it’s believed the introduction of the AEP is a fait accompli as the Chief Constable has the power to purchase in any event.
The Northern Ireland Children’s Commissioner Nigel Williams wrote to the Policing Board yesterday expressing concern that the medical assessment of AEPs has not specifically focused on the impact on children.
Kathleen Duffy, mother of Seamus - the last child killed by a plastic bullet - described the purchase as “disgraceful”.
“If this goes ahead, anyone on the Policing Board who is sincere about securing human rights must resign,” she said.
Relatives for Justice spokesperson Clara Reilly said that the issue raises “very serious questions for the Policing Board”.
“Be under no illusions, these new weapons are plastic bullets, still a lethal weapon and every bit as capable of diminishing lives and breaching human rights,” she said.
Paul O’Connor of the Derry-based Pat Finucane Centre said that Policing Board members should resign if the PSNI buys the new bullets.
“It is our view that no democratic policing structures can evolve where plastic bullets remain part of the policing armoury,” he said. “This is an issue of such gravity that we would expect those on the Policing Board who have a genuine concern for human rights to make it clear that this is a resigning matter.”
The Children’s Law Centre Director Paddy Kelly called on Hugh Orde to defer the decision “until such time as fully independent medical research informs the PSNI and the Policing Board about the consequences of using such missiles when children are present”.
A PSNI spokesperson confirmed the issue of AEPs is currently being considered.

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