Police wholly justified in shooting tyres of vehicle involved in ATM theft in Arbroath on 12 February 2016


On 12 February 2016, officers of Police Scotland discharged three shotgun tyre deflation rounds (TDRs) at a vehicle's tyres in Westway Retail Park, Dundee Road, Arbroath. The occupants of the vehicle were arrested for an earlier theft of an Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) in Carnoustie and other crimes.

Those arrested were suspected of being members of an organised crime group responsible for a series of robberies across the UK. The occupants of the vehicle had tried to use it to ram their way out of a police block.

During the incident, two further TDRs were discharged at another vehicle which was mistakenly thought to be involved in the crime.

In terms of the Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012 and the Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (Investigations Procedure, Serious Incidents and Specified Weapons) the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (PIRC) for independent investigation.

The investigation revealed that, following the theft of the ATM in Carnoustie earlier that morning, armed police officers were dispatched to Westway Retail Park, Arbroath when a vehicle, suspected of being involved, was seen parked at that location. Intelligence and information available to police indicated that the persons responsible for the theft had access to firearms, a history of extreme violence, and had previously used high powered stolen vehicles to ram police vehicles and evade capture.

Following investigation the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner concluded that:

  • Examination of the police firearms response provides that the officers, including the operational and tactical commanders, managed the incident professionally;
  • There was clear information indicating that the suspects had access to firearms, a history of violence, and posed a high risk to the public and police;
  • When the suspects used their vehicle to ram the police vehicle in an attempt to escape arrest, the use of Tyre Deflation Rounds (TDRs) was wholly justified in the circumstances: a necessary and proportionate tactic, which enabled the police to maximise the safety of the public and officers.

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