Northern Ireland

Police Ombudsman to investigate Twaddell Avenue complaint

Police Ombudsman
Image caption The Police Ombudsman's Office said the complaint will now be the subject of a investigation

The police ombudsman is to investigate a complaint about the conduct of police officers at a sectarian flashpoint in north Belfast on Monday night.

The Progressive Unionist Party said several women were injured due to an "excessively forceful" PSNI response.

It said women, men and young people were "hit with batons, punched and kicked" during the incident at the Twaddell Avenue/Crumlin Road junction.

Police said they intervened during sectarian clashes and "restored calm".

In a statement, the PUP leader Billy Hutchinson said: "A number of Protestants were making their way home along the Crumlin Road when they were attacked by nationalists throwing missiles. Following this, people in Twaddell Avenue moved towards Crumlin Road and met an excessively forceful response from PSNI."

Mr Hutchinson said a "number of women needed medical treatment" due to police actions.

A PSNI spokesman said officers intervened after "opposing factions confronted each other" in the Crumlin Road area at about 21:15 BST on Monday.

He added that a 33-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of several offences "including riot, disorderly behaviour and assault on police".

The man has since been released on police bail.

The PSNI spokesman said no police officers had been injured in the incident.

"Anyone with a complaint about the actions of police can contact the office of the Police Ombudsman," he added.

Since July, Twaddell Avenue has been the focus for nightly loyalist parades and protests against the Parades Commission's decision to restrict an Orange Order march along a section of the Crumlin Road.

The protesters set up a camp on Twaddell Avenue after the commission ruled that the marchers could not hold a return parade on a stretch of Crumlin Road that separates nationalist and loyalist communities on 12 July.

In a statement, a spokesman for the the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman's Office said: "We have received a complaint about police actions during an incident in Twaddell Avenue area of Belfast last night which will now be the subject of a police ombudsman investigation."