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Plastic Baton Rounds

Volume 87: debated on Tuesday 26 November 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied with arrangements for making plastic baton rounds available to police forces; and if he will make a statement.

As the House was informed at the time, plastic baton rounds and CS gas for public order use were made available to police forces in Great Britain following the riots in 1981. In response to a question by the hon. Member for Islington, North (Mr. Corbyn) on 19 November at columns 140–41 my hon. Friend the Minister of State listed those forces in England and Wales that hold such equipment.It is right that such equipment should be available, for use only in the last resort, and subject to strict conditions. As part of their efforts to learn from the recent disorders, it is also right for chief officers of police to review their public order equipment in order to ensure that they can carry out their duty of maintaining order in their force areas.

If, in pursuit of that duty, a chief officer of police concludes that he does need plastic baton rounds, this is initially a matter for him and his police authority. But I should make it clear that where a chief officer concludes that he requires plastic baton rounds, and this is endorsed by the independent professional advice of Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary, I shall support him. In those circumstances, I regard it as essential that plastic baton rounds should be available to the force concerned.

My department is consulting the chief officers of police and the police authorities most immediately concerned to work out how such a requirement is best met.