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Cs Sprays

Volume 593: debated on Thursday 3 September 1998

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asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether police officers who carry CS spray when on duty inside football grounds are given special training as to its use; and [HL3099]What action they consider is appropriate following the research carried out by the Bethlem and Maudsley Hospital into the effects of CS sprays upon incoming patients and their treatment; and [HL3100]What is the current position with regard to operational trials of the water-based CS spray which have been developed by Surrey; and whether there has been any advance on the development of a synthetic pepper spray which could be used as an alternative to CS; and [HL3101]Whether the use of CS spray has caused the number of attacks on police officers to drop significantly; and whether it has proved to be a valuable tool for women police officers targeted for attack by criminals; and [HL3102]What action they believe is appropriate following the views expressed by the National Association for Mental Health (MIND) and the Mental Health Act Commission regarding the police use of CS spray to restrain psychiatric patients in their homes and on hospital wards; and [HL3103]Whether there is reliable evidence that the risk of injury from the use of CS spray is much lower than that from police batons. [HL3104]

Police officers are given special training on the use of CS spray but not particularly in respect of duty inside football grounds. Guidelines issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers on the use of CS sprays have general application to all of the circumstances in which an officer may need to use CS spray.Surrey Police have discontinued trials of a water-based CS spray. Hertfordshire Constabulary are continuing to research the possibility of a synthetic version of Oleoresin Capsicum.During operational trials of CS spray in 16 police forces between March and August 1996, it was found that no clear conclusions could be drawn from the data about the effect of carrying CS on assault rates. The officers who took part in the trials were clear that CS spray significantly improved their safety. Early indications within the Metropolitan Police Service are that the use of CS spray significantly reduces the risk of assault and injury. During the operational trails, CS was seen as easy for even the slightest officer to use, and was particularly welcomed by female officers for this reason. Female officers stated that it gave them confidence to ward off or arrest the most powerful subject.The effects of CS spray wear off relatively quickly and have no significant long-term effects. The physical impact involved in making a baton strike will inevitably carry a greater risk to the health of the person who is struck.

Regrettably, there may, be occasions when police officers need to use force against people suffering from mental illness, and the use of CS spray may well represent the most benign option. The treatment of patients suffering from mental illness who may have been sprayed with CS is a matter for health practitioners and nursing staff.