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PSNI gun trainers ‘don’t know rules of engagement’

20 October, 2008

Sinn Féin Policing Board member Martina Anderson has welcomed the Board's annual Human Rights report which she said will greatly increase accountability of the PSNI.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday's publication of the report, the Foyle MLA said:

"Sinn Féin worked closely with the Board's Human Rights advisors in compiling this report and it has addressed a number of very serious concerns which we raised.

"For instance, the report highlights the reality that some firearms trainers within the PSNI 'are not fully familiar with, or able to adequately communicate the differing tests for the use of force'.

"I am sure the many people will be astonished to learn that those responsible for training the PSNI in using weapons are themselves unsure about the rules governing when these weapons can or cannot be used.

"That is an incredible and completely unacceptable situation. I am glad that it has been highlighted in one of the report's 30 recommendations which calls for a review of training procedures to remedy this shortcoming."

The Sinn Féin Policing Board member continued:

"The recommendations will also greatly increase the human rights and accountability framework within which the PSNI operate.

"For example, the PSNI internal evaluation team will be required to conduct more regular evaluations and reports to the Policing Board. That will allow us to take a more rigorous approach in terms of ensuring that the PSNI is Human Rights compliant.

"The report also addresses an issue emanating from the Sean Hoey case when it emerged that police officers facing serious criminal or disciplinary investigation - but who haven't been suspended from duty - are able to resign or retire in order to dodge justice.

"The recommendations in this report will end that loophole, meaning that all officers - whether suspended or not - will not be able to give notice to resign or retire without the consent of the Chief Constable.

"Furthermore, the report contains a recommendation regarding the use of AEP's, or plastic bullets against children and young people stating that it is 'difficult to envisage any circumstance' when AEP's cane be justifiably used against children.

"Taken together, I believe the recommendations in this report will assist the Board in terms of holding the PSNI to account.

"However, there is much more work to be done and the only context in which we are going to get the kind of first-class policing and justice service which will make a real impact on the problems blighting our communities is through the transfer of those powers to the Assembly, sooner rather than later." ENDS

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