British Transport Police justified in using Captor Spray

The Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) has found that British Transport Police were justified in using Captor Incapacitant Spray in dealing with a confrontation between a large number of rival football supporters that arose after a Champions League match.

On Tuesday 22 October 2013, officers from British Transport Police working at Bridgeton Railway Station, Glasgow heard people shouting close to the area of a nearby pub. An altercation had broken out with more than 15 men involved. British Transport Police were soon faced with a violent situation, which had the potential to quickly develop further.  At this time the area was busy with both pedestrians and traffic.

The men involved in the dispute ignored repeated warnings from the police officers, including warnings that Captor Spray would be used if they did not stop fighting. One of the officers then discharged Captor Spray, following which the men dispersed.

As is normal practice following the discharge of any police firearm, the British Transport Police referred the matter to the PIRC for independent investigation. PIRC investigators visited the scene, reviewed relevant documents and procedures, read statements from the police officers involved, viewed CCTV footage, and listened to airwave transmissions.

Following investigation, the overall conclusion of the PIRC is that:

  • Officers from British Transport Police managed the incident professionally
  • The use by one officer of Captor Incapacitant Spray was proportionate and justified. If the officer had not done so, there was a likelihood that the situation would have continued to escalate and place those involved, members of the public and police officers at risk.
  • The officers were outnumbered during this incident and experienced some difficulty in communicating with their control room about their need for reinforcements. The control room did not have local knowledge of the area and valuable time was spent clarifying the location of the incident.
  • British Transport procedures relating to the use of Captor Spray need to be updated to provide guidance to officers using the spray in areas aside from railway premises.

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