Steel batons being sold in high street

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The Independent Online
DRUG DEALERS and bouncers are obtaining police-style extendible batons by exploiting a legal loophole that allows the sale of the extremely dangerous weapons.

Police leaders have urged the Home Secretary, Jack Straw, to stop gun shops selling the weapons, which are easily concealed and can break a limb or a skull with a single strike. Costing about pounds 30, the steel nine- inch batons can be expanded to about three feet.

The call to ban their sale comes after several cases in which they have been recovered. In April an extendible baton was found in the possession of a man arrested in Bristol for having drugs. He was charged with possessing an offensive weapon. Ten batons were also seized from a Somerset gun shop during a police raid.

The Superintendents' Association says a burglar was caught with a baton and a man suffered severe jaw injuries when he was hit in the face with the weapon.

Under the Criminal Justice Act 1988 it is an offence to sell, or offer for sale or hire, any telescopic truncheons activated by a spring-loaded button. But because US-made ASP batons and similar devices operate with the flick of the wrist, they do not come under the legislation. It is illegal to possess the weapons, but not to buy or sell them. ASP batons are now used by most police forces.

Peter Gammon, president of the Superintendents' Association, has written to Mr Straw, saying: "Already there are too many of these weapons in circulation - we should take steps now to stop more being sold."