‘Using CS spray on schoolboy was only option’

Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire.  (DER2913JB33)
Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire. (DER2913JB33)

The PSNI “had no alternative” but to use CS spray on a 14 year-old student who was arrested at a Derry school, the Police Ombudsman has said.

The incident happened at Oakgrove Integrated College on January 7 after police officers responded to an emergency call about a pupil causing a disturbance at the school.

The officers found the pupil in an agitated state and bleeding heavily from his hand, having punched through a glass window.

Given the age of the schoolboy and the fact that it happened in a school, the Police Ombudsman, Dr Michael Maguire, ordered an investigation into the police action.

In his report, published today, Dr Maguire described the use of CS spray on the teenager, as “necessary”.

The Ombudsman said the police officer who used the CS spray tried to calm the boy after being pushed and threatened. Dr Maguire also said a warning had been given before the spray was used.

Dr Maguire said: “This young man had already hurt himself, was bleeding quite badly and needed medical attention.

“He had also threatened the officer and others and efforts to pacify him seemed to have failed. The officer said he feared for the boy’s safety and the safety of others and had no alternative.”

“No-one who saw what happened, including the boy himself, is questioning his judgement,” he said.

The Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley-Mooney, described the use of CS spray on a child as “concerning”.

“As Children and Young People’s Commissioner, it is concerning that this type of restraint on a child is necessary.

“I am seeking further information and plan to raise this issue at a meeting with the Police Service for Northern Ireland next week,” she said.