20 September 2007 Edition

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Outrage at PSNI use of CS gas

Public outcry has accompanied the release of figures detailing PSNI deployment of CS gas within the last three years. Since CS gas canisters became standard kit in July 2004 the PSNI have deployed the spray almost 1,000 times. In other words the PSNI have used CS gas almost every day.
According to latest figure CS gas has been deployed on 996 occasions with the highest number deployed in North Belfast where the chemical has been used on 103 separate occasions. There have been 72 reported cases in Craigavon, with high levels also reported in Coleraine, north Down and Belfast.
There have been 241 complaints made to the Ombudsman in connection with PSNI use of CS gas. The use of CS was monitored for the first six months but subsequently only in respect of a specific complaint.

public had been ‘duped’
Commenting Paul O’ Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre said the public had been ‘duped’ into thinking all uses of the gas would be automatically investigated.
“The public were originally led to believe all uses of CS spray would be investigated by the ombudsman. It was only after its introduction we were told this was time limited,” said O’Connor.
The PFC’s spokesperson also expressed concerns about the guidelines in relation to the use of CS gas were “as clear as mud”. “There is nothing to say a person cannot be sprayed whilst restrained for instance. These figures show an alarmingly high level of CS gas use which is very worrying,” said O’Connor.

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