Belfast Telegraph

Police cleared over using CS spray in children's home

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

Police were justified in using CS spray against juveniles at a Co Down children's home, a watchdog has found.

The Police Ombudsman also concluded that using the spray during other incidents in Ballymena and Londonderry was lawful, necessary and proportionate.

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton routinely refers the use of CS spray against under-18s for independent investigation.

The children's home incident happened in January, when officers responded to reports of two boys, aged 15 and 17, damaging equipment and furniture.

Staff said the boys smashed an alarm system, broke glass doors, destroyed furniture, flooded a corridor and then used a wardrobe to barricade themselves in a room with three female residents.

They also said the youths may have had weapons, and that an officer who attempted to enter the room said a swipe was taken at him with a metal bar.

The youths were warned to drop any weapons and told on several occasions that CS spray would be used if they did not comply.

When warnings were ignored, an officer pushed his way into the room and used the spray, allowing colleagues to restrain the boys. Staff at the home confirmed the police account and raised no concerns about how the situation was handled.

In a separate incident, CS spray was used against a 17-year-old boy detained by a member of the public after smashing a window in Londonderry.

Police said the teenager became violent and screamed wildly when officers tried to restrain him, and that using the spray allowed handcuffs to be applied.

The member of the public who reported the incident confirmed the youth had been acting aggressively and resisting police.

Investigators also examined the use of CS spray on a 17-year-old boy in Ballymena.

In his findings, police ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire said that all officers involved had been properly trained in the use of CS spray and concluded that their actions had been lawful, necessary and proportionate.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph