BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: N Ireland  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 28 May, 2002, 06:17 GMT 07:17 UK
Plastic bullet use 'justified'
More than 110 officers were hurt in disturbances
More than 110 officers were hurt in disturbances
Police officers were justified in using plastic baton rounds in riots last year, a new report says.

The findings, published on Tuesday, said more than 110 officers were hurt in disturbances in north Belfast and in County Armagh.


In all the instances the use of baton rounds were fully justified

Police Ombudsman

Northern Ireland's Police Ombudsman, Nuala O'Loan, investigated the firing of 36 baton rounds during seven separate riots.

She also said that in one case there were grounds for suggesting that the rounds should have been fired earlier.

The report, which has now been passed to the secretary of state, said during one outbreak of violence near the Holy Cross girls' primary school in north Belfast there was evidence a crowd was directed by men using walkie-talkie radios and whistles.

"In all the instances the use of baton rounds were fully justified," said the ombudsman.

"Indeed, the police frequently acted with considerable restraint.

"In one instance there are grounds for suggesting that baton rounds should have been introduced even earlier than they were."

Public order

Welcoming the report, Secretary of State John Reid said: "It is those who cause riots and direct potentially murderous attacks on the security forces and others who are responsible for the need for baton rounds to be used to protect life.

"I welcome the findings in this report that in each of the cases investigated, the use of the rounds was fully justified and proportionate, as were the authorisation and directions given."

He added: "We are continuing the search for a safer alternative and the government would be delighted if the public order situation improved sufficiently to remove the need to resort to baton rounds at all."


Obviously everyone in the community would much prefer to be in a position where the police do not have to resort to such measures

Desmond Rea
Policing Board Chairman

A spokesman for the United Campaign Against Plastic Bullets said the report "lacked any real investigative procedures and was merely perfunctory".

"There is a real danger that this report may be used, or be interpreted by some to justify the ongoing use of plastic bullets," said the group in a statement.

"Such attempts or spin must be challenged."

The chairman of the Policing Board welcomed the report.

'Duty of care'

Professor Desmond Rea said: "We are pleased that in each incident the stringent procedures for discharging baton rounds were rigidly followed.

"This is an important issue for the Policing Board and, at the April meeting, members received a comprehensive presentation on baton rounds and the alternatives which are being researched."

He added: "Obviously everyone in the community would much prefer to be in a position where the police do not have to resort to such measures but there is a duty of care to police officers as well as members of the public."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's Yvette Shapiro
"The report has been welcomed by the secretary of state and the Policing Board
Police Ombudsman Nuala O'Loan
"All we seek to do is measure their use against the guidelines"
Clara Reilly, anti plastic bullets campaigner
"This report should not be seen as a thorough investigation"
See also:

18 Jul 01 | N Ireland
31 May 01 | N Ireland
22 Mar 01 | N Ireland
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more N Ireland stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more N Ireland stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes