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Pocket Bodyguard Equipment

Volume 885: debated on Thursday 6 February 1975

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19.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions have taken place between the Metropolitan Police and a firm whose name has been supplied to him regarding the sale of pocket bodyguard equipment; and what is the result of Scotland Yard's investigation into this matter.

The Metropolitan Police has told the firm that it is its policy to advise members of the public against carrying any form of device for protection purposes.

Is the right hon. Gentleman aware that where there is an increase in violence and a rise in the number of mugging cases in certain areas, people are bound to seek to carry their own personal devices to safeguard themselves? Is it not better that they should carry such devices, which are effective but reasonably safe, rather than that they should carry lethal devices which can cause bodily harm and land people in court, with disastrous results?

On the matter which the hon. Gentleman has in mind, I think it right that I should be guided by police advice, particularly when I agree with that advice. The view is that such a device could be regarded by the courts as on offensive weapon under the Prevention of Crime Act 1953. There is no legal protection, because no control can be exercised over sales to prevent the devices falling into the wrong hands. The deterrent value of these devices is doubtful, and the police, who are in the best position to judge, consider that attempts to use such devices would be likely to increase the risk of violence to the user.