Police justified in using taser against 15 year old with knife

The Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) has found that police were justified in using a baton round[1] and taser[2] to disarm a 15 year old boy who was threatening both himself and officers.

On Saturday 4 May 2013, officers from the Police Service of Scotland, Forth Valley Division, were called to an incident in the Stirling area in which an intoxicated 15 year old boy had armed himself with a large knife and was threatening to kill himself. 

The boy presented the knife at officers, threatening to stab them and to kill himself and began to self-harm, inflicting cuts to his hands and arms. Armed police officers attended the incident armed with tasers and baton rounds and contained the boy until the arrival of police negotiators.

Over a period of two hours police attempted to resolve the incident and persuade the boy to disarm.  However he became increasingly agitated and continued to self-harm.  When he threatened to commit suicide by stabbing himself in the chest and appeared to be attempting to attack an officer, police fired a baton round and then a taser at him.    This allowed the police to disarm the boy and take him into custody.

The boy was taken to hospital where he was treated for his self-inflicted injuries. He suffered no after-effects of the use of taser or the baton round other than minor bruising. He was later charged with a public order offence and possession of a knife and placed into the care of Social Work Services. 

As is normal practice following the discharge of any police firearm, the police referred the matter to the PIRC for independent investigation.  PIRC investigators interviewed the boy, his mother, social work staff, and witnesses to the incident.   They read statements from police officers, viewed CCTV footage of the incident, listened to audio recordings and visited the scene.  

Following investigation the PIRC considers that the use of the baton round and taser was proportionate and justified.  It allowed police to control the boy, disarm him and ensured that he did not seriously injure either himself or the officers. In the circumstances there was no less forceful method to resolve this incident safely.  

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[1] Attenuating Energy Projectile, commonly known as baton round

[2] Conducted Energy Device, commonly known as taser

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