Belfast Telegraph

Girl, eight, loses police taser bid

A legal bid to effectively block the use of tasers by police in Northern Ireland has failed.

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan dismissed a High Court attempt to quash the decision to introduce the weapons.

The challenge had been launched by an unnamed eight-year-old girl whose grandmother was killed by a plastic bullet fired by a police officer in 1981.

But the Lord Chief Justice concluded that the decision to deploy tasers was handled properly by the chief constable and was within his operational responsibilities.

The court heard that the child who made the application lives in an area of West Belfast where a feud between two families caused sporadic incidents of violence and disorder on the streets. It was also told that evidence suggested that children are vulnerable to the use of tasers.

But the judge said that "no factual scenario was put forward which raised any material risk that the applicant would be exposed to the possible use of a taser".

He did not accept that the child was directly affected by the decision to introduce tasers either on a pilot basis or permanently.

Former Police Service of Northern Ireland Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde got Policing Board support to introduce the weapons in 2008.

The introduction of tasers had been challenged under equality legislation and human rights laws.

The Lord Chief Justice concluded, however, that he was satisfied that the decision to deploy tasers "was well within the range of rational decisions that was available to the Chief Constable".

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