Police will use leg shackles to restrain violent suspects

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The Independent Online

Leg restraints are to be introduced by two English police forces to prevent people under arrest from kicking out at officers.

Leg restraints are to be introduced by two English police forces to prevent people under arrest from kicking out at officers.

The plastic restraints, which use a long piece of webbing to hold the arms and shackle the prisoner's ankles, are to be used in Hertfordshire and Sussex after successful trials.

The ankle restraints have also been found to stop people from headbutting, because they are unable to retain their balance after making such an attack. The restraints have been so well received by officers, who described them as "a brilliant piece of kit" that they are likely to be introduced across the country.

The Association of Chief Police Officers has given its backing to the restraints and guidance is being drawn up for all forces on how to acquire them.

In Sussex, police began trials of the Viper, or Violent Person Restraint System, after concerns that officers were being seriously hurt by prisoners who kicked out after being arrested or placed in the back of a patrol car.

Sgt Paul Gregory told Police Review: "Officers find that if a person is becoming violent, they kick out, giving the potential for serious injury to the officer, the person and the public. Using a leg restraint negates that problem.

"It's not going to replace handcuffs and it's only used in extreme circumstances. The policy is that they should be used only when other methods have been tried and failed." After the introduction of CS sprays and long-handled batons, the restraints are the latest addition to an ever-widening selection of equipment for self-protection and subduing difficult prisoners.

The Avon and Somerset, Kent and Hampshire forces have all reportedly shown an interest in the Viper equipment. In Hertfordshire, officers in three divisions have successfully tested a similar device called a "Velcro Strap".

A force spokeswoman said: "The feedback from officers was that this was a brilliant piece of kit and once the guidelines come back from Acpo we will recommend it be permanently used in the force."

Northamptonshire Police are trying a third form of leg restraint, which uses plastic wrapping around the limbs.

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