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Demands for withdrawal of CS spray win growing support

PRESS RELEASE 4/2/98

Lambeth Police Consultative Group votes for suspension of CS Spray pending independent scientific inquiry

Movement for Justice supporters campaigning for the withdrawal of CS Spray won an important victory at last night's open meeting of Lambeth Community-Police Consultative Group. Pressure from the campaign had forced the Group to agree to a full debate on the use of CS Spray. A long, serious discussion concluded with an overwhelming vote demanding the suspension of CS Spray pending an independent scientific inquiry.

Police Superintendent Derek Cook of Streatham Division gave a 20 minute presentation of the police case for its use, including demonstrations by police officers.

Alex Owolade presented the case for the Movement for Justice, starting with a video of Channel 4 News' 28th. January report on CS Spray This showed:-

Alex pointed out the danger of the MiBK solvent in CS Spray - a chemical used in paint stripper - and quoted French medical evidence on serious burns suffered by victims. He argued that the history of black deaths in police custody meant the community could not trust the police with this potentially lethal weapon. He proposed that the P-CCG should demand its immediate withdrawal.

Cancer specialist Dr. Robert Jones detailed the scientific evidence against the use of CS solvent and MiBK which the PSDB had ignored. He rebutted the significance of the claimed 25% fall in violence against Durham police since CS Spray was introduced. Violence against police officers has fallen nationally for a number of years, before the CS Spray trials.

Nobody spoke in support of the use of CS Spray. Speakers referred to the its role in the death of Ibrahima Sey in Ilford, its use in a coach full of people leaving a night-club in Leeds and against a 14 year old boy in a Bristol children's home, and its disproportionate use against black people.

Movement for Justice spokesperson Alex Owolade says "The response to our campaign has finally forced the Community-Police Consultative Group off the fence. Last night the police were on trial and they totally lost the argument. The overwhelming vote for withdrawal of CS Spray was a big step forward. Next week's Movement for Justice public meeting in Brixton will be an opportunity for the community to air their views and experiences. We have invited Dr. Peter Gray to speak, and expect to have other scientists and youth workers there as well. It will be the next stage in stepping up our fight to get this deadly police weapon banned."

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