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PFNI demand more Tasers after 'horrific' incident

Northern Ireland’s police leader has called for Taser training to be fast-tracked after an officer was stabbed.

The Police Federation for Northern Ireland called for action to improve safety after a man was shot and an officer stabbed in what was described as an ‘horrific incident’.

The Police Ombudsman’s Office is now investigating after a man was shot by a Police Service of Northern Ireland officer in Londonderry on Saturday.

The man was been taken to hospital where he is understood to be in a critical condition.

One police officer was been treated for stab wounds to his arm and head.

The incident happened at a flat in the Gobnascale area of the Waterside.

A spokesman for the Police Ombudsman’s Office said: "At this stage, we know that police went to the flat after receiving a call for assistance. There was then a confrontation during which one police officer sustained stab wounds and police discharged CS spray and a single gunshot.

“Police notified the Police Ombudsman’s on-call team about the incident, and our investigators have been making enquiries.”

The PSNI corroborated the Ombudsman’s statement.

The NI Federation said the incident had highlighted the need for officers to be given Tasers.

The force currently has just one Taser per 23 officers, despite calls for more to be procured.

The Chair of the Police Federation for Northern Ireland, Mark Lindsay said he hoped the officer makes a speedy recovery.

Mr Lindsay said: “In what was a frightening incident in Gobnascale, the officer sustained knife wounds to his head and arm and a man sustained a chest injury after a police firearm as discharged.”

He added: “This was an horrific incident for all concerned. We wish our officer a full and speedy recovery and assure him we will do all we can on his behalf during the Police Ombudsman’s investigation.”

The Federation had already urged Chief Constable Simon Byrne to bring forward training for new officers following a week of violent protests which left dozens of officers injured.

Mr Lindsay said the weekend’s events showed the need for training and equipment to be rolled out faster.

He said: “This incident is yet more proof of the need for the more widespread roll out of less lethal Taser to deal with potentially life-threatening incidents.”

Mr Lindsay said Tasers were a preferable option to the use of firearm and were badly needed given the current volatility in community relations.

He said: “Taser is an effective device when dealing with difficult and challenging incidents. Its professional deployment protects officers and prevents assailants from inflicting harm on others including officers.

"It is a sensible and safe deterrent that also gives officers badly-needed protection in often volatile and dangerous situations.”

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