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PSNI investigate 'naming and shaming' of officer over pepper-spray incident

Photographs of the man were published on a Facebook site.

THE PSNI IS investigating posts on social media made about an officer who used pepper spray at an Orange Order parade.

The comments were made on this photo after it was posted on the PUL Media site on Facebook:

office pic 2 Source: Facebook

The Facebook site accused the officer of pepper-spraying children at the event on the Ormeau Road.

In the comments of the post, the officer was named. One person who responded to the post named the alleged station that the officer works at, along with his working hours.

The PSNI said that the pepper spray had been directed at adults and that it “deeply regretted” any subsequent contact any children or young people had with the spray.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, the PSNI said that it is “currently investigating a number of posts on social media”.

Comments condemned

The Chairman of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, Mark Lindsay, condemned the actions of those behind what he described as “a campaign of vilification on social media” against the officer.

Lindsay said revealing details of the officer’s name and address was of immediate concern given the fact that the terrorist threat level remained classed as ‘severe’.

The comments posted on social media are scurrilous and despicable. There is an investigation underway by the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland and that is where this should be left.
This type of trial by social media, where officers are readily identified in a photograph and their personal details bandied freely on social networks, is reprehensible. All right-thinking people must condemn this anarchy by people who are baying not for facts, but for blood.

He added that officers can work “in dangerous situations where protecting lives and property are the objective. They will continue do that objectively and fairly, whether it’s on the Ormeau Road or in Crumlin”.

I call on those behind the social media outbursts to ‘park’ their prejudices and let the lawfully constituted agencies get on with the job of investigating what actually took place.

Lindsay also said that politicians “who did not witness what happened should desist from making inflammatory comments”. 

Speaking about the incident, Chief Superintendent Chris Noble said that as a 26-year-old man has been arrested and charged with disorderly behaviour and two counts of assault on police, the PSNI is limited with the amount of detail it can discuss.

He said the police investigation into this incident is ongoing. The Police Ombudsman has also been informed regarding the use of CS incapacitant (pepper) spray.

Noble said that two police officers, one on a motorcycle, attended a band parade in the Ormeau Road area of South Belfast on Tuesday 29 March.

He said that just after 5.10pm, police spoke with parade organisers about some band members who were walking in amongst parked cars and traffic.

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“A police officer then asked the band members to step back but they simply disregarded his requests,” said Noble. “At that point one of the officers tried to move bandsmen away from brushing against parked cars when he came under attack by a section of the band. The other officer got off his motorcycle to assist his colleague when he was also attacked and the police motorbike damaged.”

He said that due to the number of people attacking the officers,” they “defended themselves with their batons”.

The pepper spray “was directed only on the people attacking them and the incident was brought under control. The two officers received minor injuries”.

He said that: “Any subsequent contact any children or young people had with CS spray particles is deeply regretted.

Noble said that 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”.

Comments are closed as a person connected to this story has been charged.

Read: Tear gas used on Orange Men at march in middle of Belfast

Read: Police officer hit in head with brick>

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