Police use of Taser ‘lawful and necessary’

The Police Ombudsman investigated 10 cases of Taser use by officers
The Police Ombudsman investigated 10 cases of Taser use by officers

The Police Ombudsman has found that the use of Tasers by PSNI officers in a number incidents was “lawful, proportionate and necessary”.

Ten cases examined involved 10 members of the public who were Tasered between July 2012 and June 2014.

Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire said the officer acted to stop a serious assault on a defenceless woman

Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire said the officer acted to stop a serious assault on a defenceless woman

On each occasion the person struck was armed with a weapon. The array of weaponry included knives, iron bars and an antique sword.

On one occasion police Tasered a man in west Belfast who had locked himself in a bedroom and placed a knife at his own throat.

On another, police responding to reports that a man with a hammer was assaulting people in a street in east Belfast also used a Taser at the scene. Members of the public told officers involved they believed the assailant might also have had a knife.

In October 2013, a Taser was used in the Glengormley area to stop a man cutting his throat with a sharp instrument.

Ten days later, police used Taser on an 18-year-old in north Belfast after he used a knife to threaten to kill officers and himself.

In another incident, police used the non-lethal force on a man who was threatening officers with a sword while cutting himself with broken crockery.

Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire found that all officers involved were properly trained and authorised – and that their actions were “necessary given the risks faced by officers and the danger posed to members of the public”.

Dr Maguire said other uses of Taser by police during the same period have been investigated and those findings will be issued at a later date.

More detailed summaries on each of the 10 incidents are available on the Police Ombudsman’s website: www.policeombudsman.org under the Investigation Reports heading.