08/07/2008

Apology Over Armed Cop's Blunder

An innocent train passenger who was wrongly tackled by armed police and ordered to lie face-down on a railway station platform has been given an apology.

Armed officers from Dorset swooped on the Bournemouth station just before 6pm on Saturday after receiving a tip-off that an armed robbery suspect was on a train.

The 21-year-old man was ordered to lie on the ground before being taken away for interrogation.

It is believed that around 10 police officers were involved in the operation.

He was later released without charge after police realised it was a case of mistaken identity.

A Dorset police spokeswoman said no shots were fired and no-one was injured.

"Dorset Police were advised by Hampshire Constabulary of an earlier armed incident in Hampshire.

"A man was identified by a police officer on a train travelling into Dorset.

"The train stopped at Bournemouth railway station and the man identified was detained by two Dorset police firearms just after 6pm.

"Inquiries into the circumstances are continuing but the force has apologised to the man and his family," the spokeswoman said.

It is understood the force have remained in contact with the man and have offered him the appropriate support.

The force has voluntarily referred the incident to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Jocelyn Cockburn, a specialist in civil liberties at London-based law firms Hodge Jones & Allen said "the IPCC will investigate the matter to see if the arrest was unlawful and whether the police actions constitute an assault".

"They will also look at whether the way the police carried out the arrest, by holding this man at gunpoint, was an excessive show of force," she said.

A Hampshire police spokeswoman said five men had been arrested on Sunday morning following Saturday's incident in Basingstoke. They have been released on bail pending further enquiries.

The incident comes nearly three years after Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead by officers at Stockwell Tube station in London after being mistaken for a terrorist.

(DS)

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