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Chemical Agents

Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department which chemical agents are deployed for law enforcement and riot control purposes in the UK; what delivery devices are used; how much of each agent has been deployed in the last 12 months; and which institutions have received the agents. [128867]

[holding answer 11 September 2003]: CS is currently the only chemical irritant authorised for use by police forces in the UK. The CS is available in a number of different delivery systems.

The Police Service retains a tactical option to use CS agents to disperse a riotous assembly in life-threatening situations; subject to prior authorisation by the relevant chief officer. The CS is pyrotechnically discharged in the form of a cloud of smoke from a hand-thrown or weapon-launched grenade. The option has only been used once in a public disorder situation in Toxteth, Liverpool, in 1981. A small stock of such devices is retained by some forces.

CS in the form of an incapacitant spray is also issued to individual officers by the majority of police forces in the UK as a piece of personal defensive equipment for routine carriage. The method of delivery of CS in this case is by a discriminate aerosol spray with a range of up to four metres. Recording of the use of the spray is the responsibility of each individual force.

CS is also available to police forces in the form of `barricade penetrating rounds' fired from a shotgun. These rounds rapidly disperse micronised CS in a cloud form within enclosed premises; the tactic is used, in extremis, to create a distraction or to encourage individuals to leave the premises. The rounds are only deployed on the authority of a senior officer for use by specially trained firearms officers in firearms/siege type situations.