Long baton welcomed by police

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The Independent Online
DORSET police announced yesterday that the force would become the first to issue long batons to officers, writes Terry Kirby.

The move comes after police anger at the refusal of Kenneth Clarke, the Home Secretary, to sanction trials of the US-style 24in (60cm) side-handled baton. That anger grew after last weekend's attack in Liverpool on PC Lesley Harrison.

Dorset officers will get a 20 1/2 in plastic baton instead of the traditional 14in (35cm) wooden truncheon; it will fit the same pocket. The batons have been tried in Weymouth for six months and other forces, including the Metropolitan Police, may follow suit.

Brian Weight, Chief Constable of Dorset, said: 'We have to ensure that police on the streets are as safe as possible.'

Fred Broughton, chairman of the Police Federation's self defence committee and leader of its constables section, said: 'This is a very welcome step. This baton is not as good as the side-handled baton, but is a significant improvement on the truncheon.'

The Home Office said it was up to individual forces, adding: 'The side-handled baton trial was stopped because it is a completely different type of weapon.'

Baton battles, page 2