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Use of force against partygoer could have been avoided

16 August 2018

In the early hours of 21 May 2017, noise control officers had bottles thrown at them while serving an abatement notice at an address in Manchester Street, Christchurch, where a noisy party was taking place. Police were called. The occupier of the house told Police that she wanted the party to be shut down, and for people to leave.

Partygoers reacted by throwing bottles and stones at Police officers. The officers donned protective equipment and, carrying shields, cleared people from the address onto the road.

Approximately 40 partygoers would not disperse when directed to, became abusive and started grabbing at the Police officers’ shields. The sergeant in charge ordered a line of officers to advance on the crowd with shields to encourage them to disperse. When the officers advanced a fourth time, Mr X was knocked to the ground by Police. Soon afterwards, the crowd dispersed.

Cell phone footage of Mr X being knocked over was the subject of a negative media report, however Mr X did not wish to make a complaint. Police conducted an investigation into the incident which the Authority oversaw and reviewed at its conclusion.

The Police investigation found that the force used against Mr X was justified in the circumstances. However, the need to use force could have been avoided if the sergeant had waited for additional officers to come and assist with managing the crowd, and if sufficient protective equipment had been available to the officers.

Police explained the findings of the investigation to Mr X and expressed regret for what happened. The Authority agreed with the Police investigation outcomes

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