Detention officer justified in striking teenager: Police Ombudsman

Published Date: 12.01.2016

A Police Ombudsman investigation has concluded that a civilian police employee who struck a teenager used “necessary force” after being bitten on the hand.

The youth had complained that he had been kicked and punched by four or five civilian detention officers (CDOs) after he was brought to a custody suite in Belfast in July last year.

He said he was punched to the back of the head, wrestled to the ground and strip searched, before being kicked to the legs and ribs and thrown onto a mattress causing him to spit up blood.

When Police Ombudsman investigators reviewed CCTV footage from the custody suite there was no evidence that the youth had been kicked or stripped naked. The footage showed him to have been struggling and resisting as up to five CDOs brought him to the ground and tried to restrain him.

One of the CDOs also made a note in the youth’s custody record that he had struck the youth three times to stop him biting him. The incident was not captured on CCTV.

The CDO was subsequently interviewed under caution by a Police Ombudsman investigator.

He explained that the youth had bitten his wrist before biting into his thumb. He said he struck the youth three times with the palm of his hand to try to release his hand.

The CDO said he did not think there were any other options available to him at the time and stated that the strikes caused no injuries to the youth and represented a necessary use of force.

The Police Ombudsman investigator agreed, finding that the actions of the CDO were justified  and proportionate in the circumstances.

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