A police officer has accidentally pepper-sprayed eight young children while delivering a botched lesson at a school.
Police apologised after the pupils, aged four-to-five years-old, suffered eye irritation from being struck by the self-defence spray containing Pelargonic Acid Vanillylamide (PAVA).
The officer was supposed to have used a mock canister filled with water for the demonstration of his equipment, but accidentally used a live one.
He sprayed the canister in the classroom during the demonstration to pupils at Ysgol Gymraeg Gilfach Fargoed in Wales on Wednesday, accidentally hitting the children with the live weapon.
One parent at the school, whose son was in the class, said she wasn’t impressed with the officer, but that she believed it was a “genuine mistake”.
“My son was in the class when the pepper spray was released. We had a phone call from the school to say it had happened. I'm not happy about it, but at the same time, it seems to be a genuine mistake,” said the parent, who did not want to be named.
She added that she was monitoring her son but that he seemed to be fine.
Children were looked after by school staff directly after the incident; no serious medical attention was required.
Gwent Police confirmed that the incident had occurred and said senior police officers had contacted parents to apologise and explain what had happened.
“Further inquiries into the error are now being undertaken, and a result of the incident school liaison officers will no longer be taking any demonstration (mock) PAVA spray into schools,” a spokesperson said.
The accident comes in the same week as a seven-year-old schoolgirl in Nottingham suffered facial injures after a gun was discharged during a tour of a police station.
A spokesman for Caerphilly council and YG Gilfach Fargoed described the incident as “unfortunate”.
Councillor Tudor Davies, who represents the area on Caerphilly council, said an investigation should be launched into the incident.
“You don't pepper spray children, at the end of the day,” he said.