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Police shooting of axe-wielding woman was 'necessary'

The 48-year-old woman was struck with a plastic bullet during incident in Edinburgh.

The incident took place in the grounds of Craigmillar Castle.
The incident took place in the grounds of Craigmillar Castle. Google 2018

A firearms officer shooting a plastic bullet at an axe-wielding woman was "necessary and proportionate", a police watchdog has found.

The armed officer fired a baton round at the woman when she ran towards officers and members of the public "apparently intent on striking them with an axe", according to a report by the Police Investigations and Review Commissioner (Pirc).

The 48-year-old woman was temporarily disabled when the plastic bullet hit her thigh, which allowed police to disarm then arrest her.

The incident took place in the grounds of Craigmillar Castle in Edinburgh on March 31.

Police were first called to the scene at 12.25pm after a member of the public phoned to alert them a woman had chased him in the wooded grounds with an axe.

https://stv.tv/news/east-central/1411929-woman-shot-with-rubber-bullet-by-police-at-scots-castle/ | default

Officers attended, sealed off the area and spent around six hours along with a friend of the woman attempting to persuade her to hand over the axe.

The 48-year-old responded with threats and eventually ran towards officers and the public with the weapon at 6.31pm, prompting use of the plastic bullet, which left her with bruising to her thigh.

She has since been charged with a number of offences.

Pirc investigated the incident as it involved police use of a firearm to shoot a plastic bullet, officially known as a Attenuating Energy Projectile (AEP) launcher.

"The woman posed a danger to a member of the public and police, threatening them with an axe," commissioner Kate Frame found.

"The use of the AEP launcher in the circumstances was both necessary and proportionate."

Police Scotland welcomes report

Chief Superintendent Matt Richards said: "Our officers acted courageously in a dynamic situation and put themselves in harm's way in order to protect the public.

"When faced with a challenging situation, they acted proportionately and with minimal force in order to ensure the safety of the public and emergency services staff in attendance. 

"I have no doubt that their professional response ensured that any potential risk to the public was minimised.

"Our authorised firearms officers are highly trained to deal with volatile situations and will only use force when absolutely necessary. 

"We have a number of options available to us so that we can bring incidents such as these to a safe conclusion and our priority remains keeping people safe and preserving life. 

"I commend these officers' actions in bringing a difficult situation under control in a professional and effective way and for keeping the public safe, as they do every day."

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