Former officer suing over ill effects of riot simulation

A FORMER police officer is suing the Lothian and Borders force for £500,000, claiming a training exercise left her afraid of police cars and sirens.

Louise McGarva claims she suffered post-traumatic stress disorder after a simulated riot in a former hospital building in West Lothian. Ms McGarva, 35, said she repeatedly passed out after being crushed while an officer giving her medical assistance allegedly told her she had “had it” and was going to die.

Her lawyers allege that eight officers were injured during the exercise after their instructors attacked them with “baseball bats, long batons and martial arts”, using “excessive” force.

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She retired on grounds of ill-health and said the training exercise left her suffering from nightmares, flashbacks, depression and panic attacks, and that she needed psychological treatment at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.

Police deny the course descended into a real-life riot, and contend that Ms McGarva already had a “history of psychological injury”.

Ms McGarva launched the legal action, against Chief Constable David Strang, at the Court of Session in Edinburgh, alleging that the course’s instructors were negligent.

Ms McGarva, who had been a police officer for 11 years, was sent on a two-day public order course taking place at the former Bangour Village Hospital in May 2007.

Nine instructors took the role of rioters whom the 21 officer students had to “control and restrain”. After a day of training, Ms McGarva and her fellow students had to enter the hospital and detain the “rioters”.