CS spray use against juveniles in Portrush and Magherafelt was justified

Published Date: 19.06.2018

The Police Ombudsman has found that police officers were justified in using CS Spray against juveniles during incidents in Portrush and Magherafelt in 2016 and 2017.

The spray was used against a 15-year-old boy in Portrush in May 2016, after police responded to a report from his mother that he had become violent and was causing damage to their house.

It was also used in Magherafelt in July last year, after police were attacked by a 17-year-old boy while responding to a report that he had assaulted a man.

The Portrush incident happened in the early hours of the morning. Officers reported that the boy threatened to kill an officer after they found him in the kitchen of the family home with a hammer in his right hand. They said he was warned that CS Spray would be used if he did not drop the weapon.

When he refused, an officer said he discharged CS spray at the youth’s chest. He said it was not immediately effective so he discharged a second burst which resulted in the youth placing the hammer on the floor.

Officers said the boy struggled and kicked out, requiring them to place him in handcuffs and leg restraints before he was taken into police custody.

Police Ombudsman investigators obtained statements from the boy and his mother after the incident. Neither expressed any concerns about police actions.

The incident involving the 17-year-old in Magherafelt was captured by police body worn video cameras. It showed him throwing items at officers, including a fire extinguisher, as they opened a door to try to speak to him.

The fire extinguisher, which the youth had been repeatedly striking against a window beside the door, hit an officer on the side as they tried to enter the property. Both officers then used CS Spray, which allowed them to enter the building and restrain the youth.

Video footage of the incident was examined by Police Ombudsman investigators, which confirmed the officers’ accounts of what had happened. 

Enquiries also confirmed that the officers who used CS Spray during both incidents had been properly trained and authorised to use the weapon at the time of the incidents.

The Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, concluded that in both cases, the use of CS Spray against juveniles had been justified, proportionate and in line with police guidelines.

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