North Wales man is first victim of new plastic bullets

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The Independent Online

A man was recovering in hospital yesterday after becoming the first person on the British mainland to be shot by the police with a plastic bullet.

A man was recovering in hospital yesterday after becoming the first person on the British mainland to be shot by the police with a plastic bullet.

Police said they were sent to the man's home in north Wales after he called them to say he had a "chopper" and was going to kill his children, aged two and six. The suspect was shot in the abdomen with the new plastic baton round, which forces across Britain have been arming themselves with as a less lethal alternative to a firearm.

The 9cm by 3cm rounds deliver a powerful punch and can kill if fired incorrectly at a person's head or heart rather than the belly. Less accurate plastic bullets have killed 17 people in Northern Ireland.

Officers from North Wales Police were told on Wednesday night that the man had stabbed his 26-year-old partner, although this was later found to be incorrect. An hour-long siege followed at the house at Mor Awel in Old Colwyn, before the man, who was armed with an 18cm knife and covered in blood, was shot at about 11pm.

Police said he was able to walk to the ambulance but may be suffering internal bleeding. His injuries are not thought to be life-threatening. The Police Complaints Authority has launched an investigation.

North Wales Police has had the Heckler & Koch baton guns for about six months. Deputy Chief Constable Bill Brereton said the man was lucky to have been shot with a baton round rather than live ammunition. He said: "Discharging this weapon at someone is far preferable than shooting someone with a firearm.

"A year ago the options available ranged from talking to people to maybe using an open hand to push them away to considering a baton strike, considering a CS spray and then moving up to deploying a dog or ultimately shooting someone."

All police forces in Britain are being given the single-shot plastic baton guns, which can knock down a person at 100ft (30 metres). The weapons had been deployed dozens of times but they had yet to be fired.

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