Page last updated at 06:39 GMT, Tuesday, 15 September 2009 07:39 UK

Police criticised over CS spray


Police in Essex have said any allegations of excessive force are always taken very seriously

A civil rights group has criticised the use of CS spray at close quarters, following an arrest in an Essex town.

Police attending a nightclub fire on Sunday in Brentwood were asked by security staff from a nearby pub to deal with a man acting "obnoxiously".

An officer was filmed using CS spray on a man, who had blood on his face.

Corinna Ferguson from Liberty said it was difficult to justify using a spray at this distance. Essex Police did not want to comment on the incident.

There is no evidence Essex police were involved with any injury the man seen on film had received.

A spokesman said they were investigating the whole sequence of events.

Police caution

Essex Police said any allegations of excessive force or assault would be taken very seriously and would be thoroughly investigated.

A 28-year-old man from Romford and a 16-year-old girl from Brentwood are being questioned.

A 40-year-old woman was given a police caution for using threatening behaviour likely to cause alarm and distress.

Ms Ferguson said: "CS gas should be used as a weapon of last resort and certainly should not be used at the range it was in the video because of its dangerous side effects."

Pixie Lott

Eleven fire crews were called to the fire at The Sugar Hut club, on the High Street in Brentwood, which broke out early on Sunday evening.

Police had been called to the scene to close roads and secure the area, but security staff at O'Neil's bar called in officers about an hour later.

The cause of the fire is unknown and Essex Police and Essex Fire Service are investigating.

A spokesman for the Sugar Hut said singer Pixie Lott had been expected at the club to celebrate the success of her record Boys and Girls.

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