Policeman who played ice cream music told to change tune

A policeman who played ice cream music over a Tannoy to calm a gang of unruly youths acted inappropriately, his commanders said yesterday.

The officer broadcast the catchy ditty from his police Land Rover to about 15 teenagers who were throwing bottles at the vehicle in west Belfast.

The tune seemed to strike the right note as the youngsters stopped acting aggressively. But top brass in the Police Service of Northern Ireland did not see the funny side of the incident in the Glasvey Drive area of Twinbrook on Saturday night.

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They have now spoken to the officer about his future conduct.

"An officer used the vehicle's Tannoy system to play music to the youths in an effort to use humour to diffuse the situation," a PSNI spokeswoman said. "The youths stopped throwing the bottles. However, police accept that this was not an appropriate action. The officer has been spoken to by a senior officer in order to establish the circumstances of the incident."

But Basil McCrea from the PSNI's independent scrutiny body, the NI Policing Board, praised the officer's approach.

"If police are to engage with the community they need to find appropriate ways to do it and need to be creative, thoughtful and resourceful," said the Ulster Unionist Stormont Assembly representative.

"While this isn't likely to become standard practice, this officer showed initiative and should be commended."