25 March 2005


Board is backing new baton round

Plastic bullets kill people--children included

The Northern Ireland Policing Board has backed the adoption of a new plastic baton round by police.

In a statement the board said the decision to replace the baton round with an 'attenuated energy projectile' was subject to conditions.

These include Chief Constable Hugh Orde consulting with the Children's Commissioner and other bodies.

Board Chairman Professor Sir Desmond Rea said the AEP presented "less risk of causing serious or fatal harm".

"The use of plastic baton rounds is of real importance to many people across Northern Ireland, not least those who have in the past suffered loss or harm to their family members and friends, and the board acknowledges this," he said.

Mr Rea added no baton rounds had been fired since September 2002 and that their use was recorded and investigated by the police ombudsman.

He said the rounds are not to be used as "an indiscriminate means of crowd control" but "against specific individuals" to protect the public and police officers.

SDLP board member Alex Attwood said that his party had opposed the decision.

He said there had been "inadequate medical assessments on the impact of this weapon on children".

"It is important to note that it was the board which decided this issue which confirms the central and pivotal authority of the board when it comes to policing decisions," he said.

The chief constable will have to demonstrate that he has consulted with relevant bodies at a board meeting on 7 April.

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