PFNI riot police safety complaint

Published Wednesday, 28 May 2014
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The Police Federation has lodged a formal complaint with the Health and Safety Executive over what it said was a “failure” by PSNI command to protect front-line officers during serious rioting.

PFNI riot police safety complaint
Officers have faced serious disorder over the past year. (© Presseye)

The federation, which represents the PSNI's rank and file officers, has said quicker decisions need to be taken during times of serious public disorder.

It called for senior officers to authorise use of plastic bullets and water cannon without delay when called for by those on the ground.

In his address at the PFNI annual conference, chairman Terry Spence told delegates that in the last year, 820 officers had been injured with 50 suffering the potentially life-threatening second impact syndrome.

Mr Spence said: "Instead of being returned to the front line, officers should be hospitalised immediately for concussion, and given time to fully recover, as is the case for injured participants of close contact sports.

"Poor lines of decision making, and delayed authorisation of the deployment, and use of necessary protective measures, such as AEPs (plastic bullets) and water cannon, are the major reasons for the shocking injury toll.

"Whenever officers call for the deployment and use of AEPs, then that request must be granted without delay.

This federation believes there was a failure by command in its duty of care to officers who confronted violent disorder orchestrated by loyalist paramilitaries during the summer period last year.

PFNI chairman Terry Spence

"Like all workers, we have every right to the protection of health and safety legislation.

"It is the law and it must be obeyed by those in authority. There can be no excuses.

"Those in command who dither need to understand that the safety of officers is being jeopardised while those same officers struggle to prevent anarchy on our streets."

Mr Spence also dealt with the continuing severe threat posed by dissident republicans to on and off-duty officers.

He added: "We've moved on. Society is moving on. But these peddlers of misery are caught in a time warp, determined to drive us back to mayhem and bloody conflict. We will do our best to ensure they fail."

Responding Chief Constable Matt Baggott said he did not reject the criticism, but would consider Mr Spence's comments.

He added: "We are not afraid of challenge, we are not afraid of being criticised and we will review our tactics.

"But our approach to public order has been praised by both the United Nations, human rights commissioners and many others.

"If there are ways to improve safety, ways in which we can work with the Health and Safety Executive to make that better then of course we will do that."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
John in Newtownabbey wrote (243 days ago):
Not Matt's finest hour by a long way. He has let the whole law abiding community down but especially his own officers and the promise of a new dawn in policing has been shattered. He was afraid or unwilling to grasp the nettle of loyalist violence so that's why we are where we are. The more he facilitated the flag protests instead of stopping them, the more dissident scumbags tried to fill the vacuum. Roll on a new face.
Belfast in Belfast wrote (243 days ago):
Praised by the UN... Maybe it would be more beneficial to be praised by your TSG officers (those who should matter.)
Nicole in County Antrim wrote (243 days ago):
Completely agree. PSNI you have tried the softly softly approach and they are walking all over your brave officers as there appears to be little deterrant. Officers are unable to react to the natural fight or flight reaction any of us would have in that situation and senior officers need to worry less about keeping things "peaceful" by giving the front line officers the authority to do their jobs which at times may mean using force to protect the vulnerable and restore peace.
Belfast in Belfast wrote (243 days ago):
Been there and done that and Terry is right . No other Police Service would stand and take that amount of violence without responding .
Trevor in Banbridge wrote (244 days ago):
I remember the days when police officers were allowed to protect themselves and do their job to the best of their ability. Now policing is all about the yellow bellied senior ranks scoring points with and making the officers stand in neat lines and be attacked attacked and attacked. Let the officers do their training. SHAME ON SENIOR RANKS, LEAVE POLITICS OUT OF POLICING. OFFICERS HAVE HUMAN RIGHTS ALSO!!!
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