Glasgow & West Scotland

Police crime gang tyre shooting was 'justified'

Steven McArdle Image copyright Google
Image caption Steven McArdle was understood to have been inside the car in Thorndean Avenue

Firearms officers were justified in shooting out the tyres of a car which had rammed a police vehicle, the police watchdog has ruled.

The shooting took place during an incident involving one of nine men jailed last month for their part in a serious organised crime gang.

Two rounds were fired at the car in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire. It was believed to be carrying Steven McArdle.

The move was considered "proportionate" due to the risk posed.

The Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (Pirc) agreed with officers' use of two shotgun tyre deflation rounds (TDRs) to bring the car to a stop due to the "high risk" to the public and police.

The findings were sent to the Scottish force in October last year but could only be made public following the conclusion of the criminal proceedings.

Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption Crime gang: Clockwise from top left: Gerard Docherty, Steven McCardle, Francis Mulligan, David Sell, Barry O'Neill and Martyn Fitzsimmons.

McArdle, 33 - who has a record of previous convictions for crimes of dishonesty, disorder and violence - was jailed for seven years and 100 days at the High Court in Glasgow in January for his involvement in the gang.

Under current regulations, all incidents involving the use of firearms by police in Scotland have to be referred to the Pirc for an independent investigation.

The findings from Commissioner Kate Frame - which do not name anybody involved - reveal that Police Scotland was investigating a number of firearms incidents which they believed were linked to an ongoing feud.

'History of violence'

Officers found out the car in question was in Thorndene Avenue in Carfin, near Motherwell, on the evening of 19 April last year.

When officers arrived in the street and tried to stop the car, the driver reversed into a police vehicle.

Pirc said that seven firearms officers pointed their weapons at the occupants and two of the officers fired a TDR, one into each of the rear wheels to prevent the car from moving, and officers then arrested three men.

Image copyright Crown Office
Image caption One of the high-end stolen vehicles stored by the organised crime gang

Ms Frame said: "The police had reliable intelligence they were dealing with a suspect who had a history of violence and access to firearms.

"They also had information he was planning to carry out an act of serious violence that day and therefore posed a high risk to the public and the police.

"Taking all this into account, when the car was used to ram the police vehicle the firearms officers were justified in using Tyre Deflation Rounds to disable the car to prevent the suspect escaping and any harm coming to the officers and public."

Supt Steven Irvine, Police Scotland's head of armed policing, welcomed the Pirc's findings which justified the officers' role.

He said: "This is a recognised and practised technique and Police Scotland officers will continue to use this and all other tactics at their disposal to reduce any wider impact to the general public.

"We remain committed to targeting those involved in serious and organised crime and ensuring the safety of those living in our local communities."

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