Pepper spray justified but report had errors

PAVA spray is an incapacitant similar to pepper spray. Pic by John Devlin
PAVA spray is an incapacitant similar to pepper spray. Pic by John Devlin

The Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) has found that a police officer was justified in using a PAVA spray to subdue a man who began to struggle during his arrest.

Commissioner Kate Frame said the use of the incapacitant spray allowed the police to gain control of the 27-year-old and arrest him quickly and safely during the incident at a public house in Annan in March 2017.

The man was later charged with a number of offences and has since been convicted of possession of an offensive weapon and resisting arrest. He received a prison sentence of nine months.

She concluded that while the use of PAVA spray was justified in the circumstances to control the man and arrest him quickly and safely, there were inaccuracies in the information provided by Police Scotland to the PIRC during the investigation.

The incident highlighted that more than a third of CS/PAVA spray referrals made to the PIRC by Police Scotland require to be returned to Police Scotland due to inaccurate or insufficient information being provided to the PIRC.

The Commissioner recommended that Police Scotland take immediate steps to ensure that officers give a full account of the circumstances surrounding officers’ use of CS/PAVA spray during arrests.

Commissioner Kate Frame added:“When police approached the man they knew he was a violent individual who routinely carried weapons.

“When he began to struggle during the arrest the discharge of the PAVA spray was justified in the circumstances, to allow officers to control the man quickly and safely.

“However, inaccuracies in the information provided to the PIRC investigation has again highlighted an ongoing problem in relation to the accuracy of information provided by Police Scotland.

“Throughout the last four years guidance and advice has been provided by the PIRC to Police Scotland on this issue but despite this, difficulties persist with the accuracy and sufficiency of the information provided by Police Scotland.”