PSNI: ‘Use of CS spray is tightly scrutinised’

The PSNI
The PSNI

Police have stressed the strict regulations surrounding CS spray following concerns over its use near Woodburn Forest on Sunday evening.

A PSNI spokesperson confirmed that the gas was employed to restrain a man during an incident in the Paisley Road area.

The plan to drill for oil and gas reserves at the rural site outside Carrickfergus has been the subject of escalating protests in recent months.

A number of protestors have cited fears around possible pollution of the nearby water reservoirs from the project, which is being carried out on land belonging to NI Water.

However both NI Water and InfraStrata, the firm behind the project, have strongly denied that there is any risk.

Referring to the weekend incident, Sergeant John Hamilton said: “On Sunday May 29, police arrested a 43-year-old man in the Paisley Road area of Carrickfergus on suspicion of common assault, disorderly behaviour and resisting police. He was later released on bail pending further police enquiries.”

The use of the spray to “restrain” the man is a response which has been criticised by Stop the Drill.

“People were shocked; it was completely disproportionate to what was happening,” a spokesperson for the campaign group alleged.

Children were in the vicinity when the aerosol spray was used, claimed former East Antrim Assembly candidate, Conor Sheridan.

“This caused severe discomfort for everyone present, especially the children,” he alleged.

In a statement, a PSNI spokesperson indicated that the carriage of CS incapacitant spray is standard procedure by all officers who are trained in its use.

“The use of CS incapacitant spray is tightly scrutinised within the PSNI and officers use their judgement when it comes to a graduated response to any threat that they may come under,” the spokesperson added.

“Anyone who has a complaint regarding the actions of any officer should contact the office of the Police Ombudsman.”

A spokesperson for the Police Ombudsman confirmed that the use of the incapacitant spray is “not automatically referred” to their office.