Police justified in using force to prevent young person jumping from bridge

Published Date: Sep 2016

The Police Ombudsman has rejected a complaint that police were aggressive and overly forceful when dealing with a vulnerable young female who was threatening to jump from a bridge in south Belfast in April this year.

The incident, which happened on the Ormeau Bridge in south Belfast, was witnessed by a member of the public who later complained about the officers’ handling of the incident. 

She said a male officer had grabbed the girl by the arm, trailed her to a police car and then shoved her into the vehicle.

She also alleged that a female officer had been aggressive and had made an inappropriate comment to the girl.

When interviewed, the officers denied the allegations and said that a degree of force had been necessary as the girl had struggled continuously and was threatening to escape and jump from the bridge.

Girl "apologised for her actions."

They said she had to be lifted to be placed into the police vehicle for her own safety, where she continued to struggle, requiring them to apply handcuffs. She was said to have calmed down after a while, before apologising for her actions.

Both officers denied having made any inappropriate comments at any stage of the incident.

Police Ombudsman investigators also spoke to a civilian witness who had earlier called police to report his concerns for the girl’s safety.

He said he had no issues about the way police had handled the incident, stating that the girl had been hysterical and that he believed the officers needed to take her to the police car for her own safety.

He also stated that he had not heard either of the officers make any inappropriate comments during the incident.

Having reviewed the evidence, a Police Ombudsman investigator concluded that police had used a minimal level of force in the circumstances, and that this had been justified in order to prevent the girl harming herself.

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