Fishery Officers Gutted By Non-Support
Fishery Officers Gutted By Non-Support For Defensive Equipment
“Fishery Officers are extremely disappointed by the Minister of Fisheries, Jim Anderton, not supporting the proposal for Fishery Officers to carry retractable batons and pepper spray to extricate themselves from dangerous situations,” said Martin Cooney, Organiser of the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) today.
Mr Cooney said the Union had received a letter from the Minister dated 3 October 2006 stating that Fishery Officers were under no duty to maintain public order and therefore should withdraw from any dangerous situations and call the police for support.
“Fishery Officers have waited patiently for three years for a response from the Government on this issue,” said Martin Cooney. “Fishery Officers face regular situations where offenders threaten them with knives, gaffs, spearguns, oars and two recent incidents with an axe and steel chain. The risk of an assault with a weapon on a Fishery Officer is the same as for the police.”
“Fishery Officers believe that the Minister has received poor advice on the matter,” said Martin Cooney. “The Union is seeking an immediate meeting with the Minister where Fishery Officers can demonstrate the use to which the defensive equipment would be put and challenge the material which the Minister has been given.”
“The irony is that the proposal to issue pepper spray and batons to properly trained staff is precisely so that Fishery Officers can effect a withdrawal when an offender decides they are not going to let an officer withdraw,” said Martin Cooney.
“Pepper spray and retractable batons are used as defensive tools. Fishery Officers will be trained to use them to extricate themselves from a position of risk only when all other less forceful means at their disposal have failed. Given the risks of open handed combat on ships or wharves, the use of pepper spray and baton provides lower risk to the alleged offender as well as the Fishery Officer.”