Watchdog backs Police Scotland firearms response to stop car

A watchdog has concluded police were justified to use firearms to shoot the tyres of a vehicle whose occupants were involved in the theft of a cash machine.

The Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (Pirc) submitted its findings to the Chief Constable of Police Scotland in May 2016.

They can now be made public after outstanding criminal proceedings were concluded on Wednesday at Liverpool Crown Court.

Seven men were convicted over a series of thefts and attempt thefts from cash machines throughout the UK and a number of burglaries and they will be sentenced on April 19.

Pirc found that because of the high risk posed to the public and police, the firearms response was necessary and proportionate to allow officers to disable the suspects' vehicle, prevent them from escaping and maximise safety.

Police intelligence suggested those responsible for a cash machine theft and other crimes had access to firearms, a history of extreme violence and had previously used stolen vehicles to ram police vehicles and evade capture.

The incident on February 12, 2016 happened after the gang had been involved in the theft of a cash machine in Carnoustie, Angus, earlier that morning.

A vehicle suspected of being involved in the incident was seen parked in Westway Retail Park in nearby Arbroath and police responded with armed officers.

Specialist officers discharged three shotgun rounds to disable the suspects' vehicle when it was used to ram a police car in an attempt to escape.

Police then arrested the occupants of the vehicle.

During the incident, a further two rounds were also discharged at another vehicle which was mistakenly thought to be involved with the earlier theft.

Pirc Kate Frame said: "The police response, to what was a significant threat to public safety and the officers themselves, was wholly justified.

"They had reliable intelligence to indicate they were dealing with suspects who had access to firearms, a history of extreme violence and who had previously used high-powered stolen vehicles to ram police vehicles and escape.

"When the suspects then used the same dangerous tactic to try and avoid arrest during this incident, the use of tyre deflation rounds to disable their vehicle was not only necessary but proportionate.''

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