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CS Gas ‘used more than handcuffs’

16 February, 2008

Foyle Sinn Féin MLA and Policing Board member Martina Anderson has criticised the extent of CS spray deployment here following a new report showing that police use it more often than handcuffs.

"The report presented to the Policing Board's Human Rights Committee raised a number of very serious concerns," Ms. Anderson commented.

"The geographical breakdown, for instance, showed that CS spray was deployed by PSNI officers far more often in areas such as Derry and North and West Belfast than it was in other regions.

"Incredibly, it also showed that CS spray was used to restrain suspected offenders more often than handcuffs.

"We have already witnessed a number of very serious incidents involving the use of CS spray including one last year when it was used against a 15-year-old boy with special needs.

"It is incidents like that - and the findings of this report - which lead many to conclude that this is rapidly becoming the weapon of choice for many PSNI officers and that is entirely unacceptable.

"It also doesn't bode well for the introduction of Tasers if PSNI officers are so quick to reach for their latest bit of kit rather than a more suitable, humane and less indiscriminate method of restraint.

"The PSNI has a huge responsibility to earn the trust and respect of communities by delivering accountable policing.

"However, the use of CS spray and Tasers is not going to assist that process and I have called on the Chief Constable to review the use of both of these weapons and I am urging the Police Ombudsman to rigorously investigate any complaints surrounding their use." ENDS

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