Payout for PSNI baton strike criticised

Published Tuesday, 15 April 2014
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The Police Federation has criticised a decision to award damages of £3,000 to a woman who was hit by a police baton.

Payout for PSNI baton strike criticised
The Police Federation said the ruling sends out the wrong message. (© UTV)

It happened during an incident in Omagh, Co Tyrone, in September 2012.

The judge at the High Court said the woman had been part of a hostile crowd which had subjected police to "vile" abuse and described the woman's drink-fuelled behaviour as unacceptable.

However the judge held that the strikes to her leg had involved excessive force.

Chairman of the Police Federation Terry Spence said the award sends out "the wrong message" adding: "This ruling will make it even tougher for police officers to deal with hostile groups.

"Officers acted in a graduated, proportionate manner and showed remarkable restraint, and this staff association is clearly disappointed with this decision. These officers are to be commended for their courage and commitment in what was obviously a very threatening situation."

The verdict came in an appeal against a County Court decision to dismiss a personal injury claim over the incident.

The judge said the award would have been cut by up to a half on account of the woman's own actions if the law had permitted him.

The woman had been out drinking in the town with friends when she emerged from a pub to see a man she knew being arrested and on the ground in handcuffs. With a crowd standing around shouting and jeering at police, she claimed to have gone over to see what was happening.

The woman alleged that a female officer hit her twice on the upper thigh, inflicting pain which lasted for weeks and leaving her emotionally affected.

According to the policewoman who used the baton a crowd of up to 20 people had surrounded four officers at the scene and were acting aggressively. The policewoman accepted she was the only officer to hit people that night but denied having lost control.

The judge decided the policewoman used excessive force in not effectively controlling her strikes and limiting them to the lower legs.

Confirming the level of damages to be paid out, he held that the case is valued at £3,000.

© UTV News
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14 Comments
Ryan in An Dun wrote (165 days ago):
@taxi paul. Cameras have nothing to do with it. It's the law and how the crooks know how to work it. It's the hoods that get away with everything. Look at the cameras filming the trouble outside St Particks and yet band members cleared of breaches because of a "technicality". If people stopped getting slaps on the wrist for crimes then they would think twice before committing them. Get it at the source and nip it in the bud.
Scundered in Limavady wrote (165 days ago):
I thought that a baton strike to the thigh area was a legal and approved move along with arms and shoulder area. I dont get what was excessive in the police officers actions and indeed commend her restraint and bravery. The judge needs a lesson in common sense and should explain what police should do in future confrontations when outnumbered by a howling mob. Perhaps he could go out on patrol a few Saturday nights to see the reality of being a police officer.
Sam1690 in Ballysillan wrote (165 days ago):
I wonder if the loyalist who was pictured being knocked off the PSNI LandRover by a water cannon on the Woodvale road on 12th July can now sue for damages?
Trust in Me wrote (167 days ago):
Can somebody explain how our law works as it seems the judges don't know how it works. A day before this article appeared, another utv story stated that a judge took into consideration a mans behaviour during a wrongful drug search at his apartment after police arrived at a domestic disturbance when awarding him reduced compensation of £1250. Yet this judge states that if he could he would have halved her compo due to her behaviour but the law wouldn't allow him. The law is an ass if two judges cannot follow it. It has been confirmed by some of the pathetic sentences of late. Our judicial system needs a complete overhaul.
not surprised in la la land wrote (168 days ago):
Surrounded by 20 people who of course all just stood around watching without saying a word I'm sure, while trying to make an arrest. This constable for no reason strikes the very lovely lady around the thigh more than once, purely to attract her attention most probably to ask her an obscure question not relating at all to the incident. All seems a bit fishy don't you think? £3,000 pounds better off on the up side. I know what i will be doing the next time i see a psni team carrying out their lawful duty.
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