Payout for PSNI baton strike criticised

Payout for PSNI baton strike criticised

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

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.


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