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Armed Forces: Weapons

Volume 470: debated on Monday 7 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which less-than-lethal weapons and non-lethal weapons are available for use by armed forces personnel; how many personnel are qualified for those weapons in each branch of the forces; and how much training is required annually to maintain that qualification. (173721)

The only non-lethal weapons used by our armed forces are the L104 and L67 baton guns. Information on the number of personnel trained in the use of these weapons is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. Neither of these weapons is permanently held by units; they are issued to meet the requirements of specific theatres of operation.

When these weapons are required, nominated personnel will receive appropriate training in their use prior to deployment. Those personnel trained in handling such weapons, who are required to maintain their proficiency, will need to pass a weapons handling test every six months and take part in an annual weapons assessment shoot as is the case for any weapon.

In addition to baton rounds, these weapons can also be used to fire a CS gas grenade, the L96A1, for law enforcement operations at the discretion of unit commanders in theatre. The necessary instruction is delivered during unit pre-deployment training.