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Home / Publications and Media / 2022 Media Releases

Unjustified use of Police dog

23 August 2022

The Independent Police Conduct Authority has found that Police were not justified in using a Police dog to detain one of two youths arrested on 3 August 2021.

A dog handler spotted a car known to have been stolen and requested to pursue it. The pursuit was not authorised, but other attending officers located the car abandoned a short distance away. They called the dog handler to track the youths from the car while other Police staff formed cordons around the area to block potential escape routes.

When the dog handler found the two youths, she warned them twice that she was a Police dog handler and could let her dog go. When they did not stop, she released her dog which bit one of them. The other youth was challenged again by the dog handler and came back without incident. The youth who was bitten was taken to hospital to receive treatment. That youth also said that when the officer arrested him, she used her boot on his face and swore at him.

The Authority found that the use of force when the dog was released and bit the youth was not justified because the use of the dog to detain the youth was not proportionate to the seriousness of stealing and abandoning a car (which was recovered) in circumstances when Police had the area cordoned to prevent escape.

Authority Chair, Judge Colin Doherty, says, “it was appropriate for Officer A to track the offenders to identify their location so as to apprehend them for the offence of unlawfully taking a motor vehicle. However, the decision to release the Police dog, with the inevitable consequence that one of the offenders was bitten, was disproportionate.”

The Authority also found that the officer did not have any contact with the driver’s face, however she likely used derogatory language during the arrest.

Public Report

Unjustified use of Police dog (PDF 333 KB) 

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