Police in Newcastle are investigating a serious incident following a disturbance in the Main Street area of Newcastle in the early hours of Sunday morning (23rd January.) Shortly before 2.30am a number of people became involved in a disturbance after leaving a bar and local police became involved.
However, Down District Councillor Carmel O’Boyle who has received a raft of complaints has condemned the police for their handling of the incident in which CS gas and batons were used. Councillor O’Boy;e, who sits on the Down District Policing Partnership, said, “I have already made a complaint to the Police Ombudsman following clashes between police and people in Newcastle on Saturday night.
“The SDLP have grave concerns that there was disproportionate force used by the police as people left a pub in the Main Street area. CS spray was used by no fewer than 27 officers as they intervened to break up a scuffle on the street.
“Innocent people, including staff, were caught up in a disgraceful situation, and we need to get to the bottom of why this happened.
“Whoever was in charge of Saturday’s bungled operation is undermining the work of their own community beat officers who are doing their best to gain the confidence of people in Newcastle.
“The SDLP have secured a meeting with District Commander Deirdre Bones on Thursday to express our concerns about this incident and to demand answers on why the police responded in this way.”
Police on patrol observed the disturbance and responded to assist a male who was being attacked by a crowd as he lay on the ground. Officers were then attacked themselves as they attempted to intervene and used CS spray and batons to restore calm and order to the area. Two people were treated at the scene for the effects of CS spray. A third person was taken to hospital for treatment to a knee injury. Investigations into the incident are already underway and police will continue their enquiries in the area over coming days.
Down Area Commander Chief Inspector Deirdre Bones speaking to Down News said, “I am concerned at the scenes witnessed in Newcastle at the weekend, but has moved to reassure people that local police officers will do all they can to prevent and disrupt this kind of violent disorder.
“We have a number of strategic safety initiatives running in the wider Down area at present , including the Nightlife strategy which involves high visibility policing in areas were night time disorder has been an issue in the past. This strategy has proved extremely effective and indeed was part of the reason why this incident was resolved so quickly.
“Local police officers cannot and will not stand by while people are violently assaulted on our streets and drink fuelled chaos takes over. They will rightly take steps to ensure public safety and reduce any possible risks. That is their job and I do not believe that the people of this area expect anything less from them. A full investigation into the weekend’s events will now take place. As part of that process police will examine all the available CCTV evidence and seek to identify those found to be committing offences and place them before the courts.
“A meeting has been arranged between myself and local political and community representatives for later this week to discuss any concerns arising from the weekend. I, along with my officers, the local District Policing Partnerships and Down Community Safety partnership will continue to engage and work together to make sure Down is a safe place to live, work and socialise,” added Area Commander Bones.
Anyone who witnessed the disturbance or who has any information is asked to contact police at Newcastle on 0845 600 8000. Information can also be passed anonymously to the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555