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No charges over police CS spray use during Junior Orange Order Belfast parade

One officer facing prosecution over driving of Land Rover

By Jonathan Bell

The Police Ombudsman has said there will be no prosecution over a police officer's use of CS spray during a junior Orange Order parade last year.

However, one officer is facing prosecution for the way he drove a police Land Rover.

Claims were made that children as young as six were exposed to CS spray at the junior Orange Order parade on the Ormeau Road on Easter Tuesday last March.

It was alleged that two of the youngsters had to be treated in hospital for the effects of the spray. One father of a six-year-old boy caught up in the trouble said that his son had been left too frightened to leave the house.

Parade organisers criticised the police for overreacting.

However, police defended the use of the spray insisting it was deployed after two officers came under attack from adult band members as they tried to "move bandsmen away from brushing against parked cars".

They said any child hit with the gas was "deeply regretted".

The then First Minister Arlene Foster also raised the issue with Chief Constable George Hamilton.

More: PSNI chief in two-tier policing storm - Unionist anger after claims that children as young as six were injured in CS spray incident

In the aftermath of the incident numerous complaints were made to the Police Ombudsman. It is now reviewing the incident to see if the police code of ethics was followed.

In a statement, the police watchdog said: "We received more than 20 complaints about different aspects of police conduct during the Junior Orange Parade on the Ormeau Road in Belfast on 29 March last year.

"After completing our investigation we submitted a file to the Public Prosecution Service.  The PPS has now directed that one officer should be prosecuted for dangerous driving in relation to the manner in which he drove a police Land Rover.

"No prosecutions have been directed in respect of the use of CS Spray or handheld batons by police officers, or in relation to a number of other complaints about the way in which police vehicles were driven.

"The Police Ombudsman‘s Office is now conducting a review of those matters in which the PPS directed no prosecution to establish if the actions of any police officer amounted to a breach of the police code of ethics."

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