§ Mr. Cohen
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on proposals for gas weapons for use by the police; what research has been done in this area and in respect of which chemicals; what controls exist on the use of existing gas weapons; and what plans he has to change them.
§ Mr. Charles Wardle
The Association of Chief Police Officers is considering the possible use of products containing the incapacitating inflammatory agent, oleo-resin capsicum. My right hon. and learned Friend will consider this matter carefully, taking full account of extensive technical information provided by the Home Office police scientific development branch and advice from other Government departments, before any decisions are reached.
The only chemical agent which police forces are currently permitted to use is CS irritant. The considerable research which has been undertaken into this agent was evaluated by the 1969–1971 inquiry into the medical and toxicological aspects of CS, reported in cmnds. 4173 and 4775. Police forces are permitted to use CS in extreme public order incidents where the chief officer of police judges such action to be necessary because of risk of loss of life or serious injury or widespread destruction of property; or against armed besieged criminals or violently insane persons where a senior officer judges that not to use it would endanger lives. There are no current proposals to change arrangements relating to CS.