Federation questions NIPB use of force report
The Chair of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland (PFNI), Liam Kelly, has questioned a Northern Ireland Policing Board report on the use of force by officers.
The report makes a series of recommendations including one that rejects the expanded use of tasers or Conducted energy Devices (CEDs), and calls into question the issuing of firearms to all officers.
Mr Kelly said: “This has been launched alongside a Human Rights review but the use of force report is devoid of acknowledging the human rights of police officers.
“We agree wholeheartedly with the practical and sensible recommendation by His Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services (HMICFRS) to expand the use of tasers as they are a credible, less lethal tactical option that afford much better protection to officers dealing with violent incidents.
“In Northern Ireland, we have around 100 specialist officers trained in the use of tasers, and it is our view that every frontline officer should have the option to be equipped with the device.
“What the Board and its Human Rights Adviser appear to be advocating would see potentially more officers attacked and seriously hurt. Tasers are effective. They are used instead of the more lethal option of a firearm in life-threatening situations and their value as a deterrent must not be under-estimated.
“Instead of paying lip service to our officers’ human rights and inhibiting their ability to protect both themselves and the public, the Board should be focusing on supporting the PSNI to get an effective budget so the Chief Constable can recommence recruitment, increase much-needed resources and ensure our officers are paid properly.
“Similarly, the whole issue of issuing firearms to officers misses a central point. We have a terrorist threat level directed at our officers which is why they are entitled to personal protection weapons. Day and daily, both on and off duty, our officers are being targeted, and they must have the ability to defend themselves. Yet again, it appears that officer rights under Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights are not being effectively advocated by the NIPB, and that is a source of great disappointment.
“Overall, this report shows scant regard for officer health and safety. They are expected to intervene in vicious brawls and confront violent assailants, and the Board seems to think they can do that job by reasoning with dangerous and often armed assailants.
“Real world policing invariably is not conducted in a eutopia nor can interactions always be fully replicated in simulated training environments. Our officers do not fear accountability or oversight. What they do fear is the inability to protect themselves, their colleagues and victims of crime because they are not being provided with the requisite support and available equipment necessary to enable them to do their jobs.”