Discharge of CS Spray in Dumbarton on 11 October 2015


On 11 October 2015, officers from Police Scotland attended at an ongoing disturbance involving a female outside a nightclub in Dumbarton.

A subsequent struggle resulted in the female being taken to the ground where she was handcuffed, placed in leg restraints and then had CS spray discharged into her face.

In terms of the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 and the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Investigations, 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 for independent investigation.

The investigation revealed that although the CS was discharged against a female who was already in handcuffs and leg restraints, she had been biting and spitting blood at the officers and was displaying strength beyond what would be expected. The incident was also caught on CCTV and in general terms, corroborated the accounts of the officers. However, due to the quality and angle of the camera, it was not possible to see all of the female's actions.

Following investigation, the PIRC concluded that:

  • The deployment of CS spray was appropriate given the circumstances. The female displayed continued assaultive resistance and aggressive behaviour towards the officers and through her action was likely to self-harm. The discharge of CS spray was a considered decision, used as a last resort as a defence by the officers against the female's actions while reducing the likelihood that she would injure herself.

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