Unintentional discharge of a police firearm at Longannet Power Station on 14 December 2015

On 14 December 2015, a G36C Carbine loaded with FX simunition paint rounds was unintentionally discharged by an officer during a training exercise located within Longannet Power Station, Alloa, Fife. A pin board attached to a wall was slightly damaged but nobody was injured as a result of the discharge.

In terms of the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 and the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (Investigations Procedure, Serious Incidents and Specified Weapons) Regulations 2013, all incidents of Police Scotland's use of firearms must be referred to the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) for independent investigation. PIRC investigators attended and examined the scene, obtained witness statements, examined firearms documentation and the relevant standard operating procedures.

The investigation revealed that the discharge happened when the sling of the officer's weapon became twisted following completion of his function checks. Around 1000 hours whilst attempting to unravel his weapon the officer accidentally discharged it. Following examination of the weapon, no technical fault was found. The approved lesson plan stated that officers would not be issued with paint rounds until later in the day once they had familiarised themselves with their weapon, however, in an effort to save time Firearms Instructors decided to issue officers with them in the morning.

Following investigation the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner concluded that:

  • The discharge of the firearm was negligent[1] and preventable;
  • If accepted practice and procedures had been rigorously adhered to then this incident would not have occurred.

Police Scotland advises that, since the event, it has taken action to ensure that procedures are rigidly adhered to. In light of the steps taken by Police Scotland, the PIRC has no further recommendations.

[1] The unintentional discharge of a firearm falls into three categories: Involuntary, Accidental or Negligent.

A negligent discharge of a firearm may be defined as a negligent discharge of a weapon caused by an act, which could and should have been foreseen and prevented. This act would be accompanied by a degree of negligence or recklessness. 

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