Police now use CS sprays more than truncheons

CS SPRAY has replaced the truncheon as the first line of defence for Britain's police, less than three years after it was introduced as a weapon for use only in extreme circumstances when officers are under direct physical threat.

More than 100,000 beat officers have been issued with canisters of CS and, according to figures obtained by the Independent on Sunday, its use has become commonplace - despite serious questions about health risks.

Civil liberties groups and health experts have pointed to dozens of cases in which CS spray has been used in situations where the threat to officers' safety has been negligible or non-existent. Of particular concern is the way in which it has been used to restrain the mentally ill.

Last week the Independent on Sunday revealed for the first time that police across Britain are regularly using CS spray as a "chemical straitjacket" to subdue mental patients. Now a 28-year-old mentally ill man is suing police for alleged assault with CS spray and for violating his rights as a patient. In the first case of its kind in the UK, lawyers acting for the man are suing for assault and for exemplary damages for police violation of his constitutional rights as a patient being detained under the Mental Health Act.

The use of the CS spray is now so prevalent that when Thames Valley Police began trials last week, it became the 40th force to do so. Only Nottinghamshire, Northamptonshire and Sussex constabularies have resisted the pressure to issue CS sprays.

Evidence that CS spray is quickly replacing the baton as the weapon of choice among officers emerged in a report by West Midlands police, published last week, which revealed that between July and September last year, the spray was used 203 times. During the same period, the baton was used at 82 incidents.

The Police Complaints Authority (PCA) has received 254 complaints from the public about CS spray. John Cartwright, the PCA deputy chairman, said: "I am concerned that it is sometimes being used as a convenience and inappropriately. Some officers are tempted to use it too soon."

The Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) has championed the use of CS spray as a potential police life-saver, claiming it is a vital weapon in redressing the balance in the fight against violent criminals.

Both Mind, the mental health charity, and the civil rights group Liberty want CS spray to be banned. A spokeswoman for Liberty, Liz Parratt, said: "It is part of the drift to policing by coercion and a move away from policing by consent. It raises serious civil liberties issues."

Ms Parratt said police often ignored Acpo's guidelines and used the spray indiscriminately. She cited one occasion when CS was allegedly sprayed into a crowded coach and the doors slammed shut, and another where CS spray was said to have been used during an incident in a children's home. Other examples include the spraying of an elderly Alzheimer's patient and a pregnant woman.

The threat to the health of those exposed to CS spray remains an area of deep concern, said Ms Parratt. "More research needs to be done," she said.

Special report, page 6

Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Mystery man: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in '‘Gone Girl'
films... by the director David Fincher
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
stoptober... when the patch, gum and cold turkey had all faied
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
people
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Welsh Teacher Year 2 required in Caerphilly

£100 - £105 per day + plus Travel Scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job:...

Year 4 Teacher

£100 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to work in ...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?