Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

CS spray incidents 'justified' by police commissioner

CS spray

Police use of CS spray in two incidents in Scotland has been found to be justified by the police commissioner.

Kate Frame said, however, that more detailed guidance should be issued to officers who use CS spray in hospital environments.

It follows an incident with a 26-year-old man who was violent at Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy in October 2014.

The second incident saw CS spray used to subdue a man at a petrol station in Aberdeenshire on 12 November 2014.

As officers in Portsoy tried to arrest the 44-year-old man, who was wanted for outstanding warrants, he got into his vehicle and a struggle resulted in an officer's hand being trapped in the door.

The officer managed to open the door, release his hand and discharge his CS spray at the man.

In her investigation findings, the commissioner concluded the use of CS spray was justified given the danger the officer found himself in, but noted more careful management of the situation "could have alleviated the risk to the officers in attendance".

Image copyright Fiona Murray
Image caption Kate Frame, police investigations and review commissioner, said the incidents were justified

All incidences where officers of Police Scotland use firearms, including CS spray, must be referred to the police investigations and review commissioner for independent assessment.

In her investigation report published on Monday, Ms Frame recommends Police Scotland provides detailed guidance to officers to clarify its procedure on managing exposure to CS spray in a hospital setting and liaises with health boards across Scotland to ensure a standard approach in dealing with the discharge of CS spray.

It was also recommended that Police Scotland provide detailed guidance on the issue, use and storage of CS spray to officers in the force's Fife Division.

Ms Frame, police investigations and review commissioner, said: "Although the use of CS spray in this situation was appropriate in order to alleviate the risk presented to the public, careful consideration should be given as to how exposure to CS spray is managed when it proves necessary to use it within a hospital environment.

"Police Scotland should take steps to consolidate procedure across the country and work with the NHS to ensure its staff are clear on what actions require to be taken following the discharge of CS spray."

A Police Scotland spokesman said: "Police Scotland acknowledges the findings and recommendations of the PIRC report.

"While officers currently receive full training around the appropriate use of CS spray in situations which require it, further learning points will now by identified and shared with officers."

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