Doubts grow over police CS spray

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The Independent Online
One of the country's leading police self-defence experts has been banned from training officers on how to use CS sprays because his chief constable is worried about being sued by people injured by the incapacitant.

It also emerged yesterday that the Home Office scientist who gave the devices the all clear suffered blistering to her face after being sprayed during tests.

The new concerns about the safety of CS come a fortnight before 16 forces in England and Wales are due to start street trials. However, the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Home Office have insisted the hand-held sprays are safe and that trials will go ahead as planned.

But Inspector Peter Boatman, a training officer from Northamptonshire police force, has been barred from teaching officers outside his region after Ted Crew, Chief Constable of Northamptonshire, said he feared his force could be sued if someone was injured by the spray. He said: "I am advised that were there to be a civil claim resulting from the use of CS spray, I might find that because we had trained the officers using it, I have some liability. It didn't seem much sense in taking this risk when Northamptonshire police officers are getting no direct benefit from its use."

This is the latest problem to occur with the CS spray which police chiefs are keen to add to their officer's armoury to help combat the rising number of violent attacks.

The magazine Police Review has also reported that Dr Jill Tan, who is involved in testing protective equipment at the Police Scientific Development Branch, suffered blisters on her face when she was sprayed with the CS product.