HC Deb 05 December 1983 vol 50 cc7-8W
Mr. Corbyn

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many and which police authorities have supplies of plastic bullets; what are the total stocks of plastic bullets held by the police authorities; where they are manufactured; and what are the rules for their use.

Mr. Hurd

The following 15 police forces in England and Wales hold, between them approximately 20,000 baton rounds, obtained under contract from the Ministry of Defence.

  • Avon and Somerset
  • Essex
  • Humberside
  • Lancashire
  • Leicestershire
  • Lincolnshire
  • Merseyside
  • 8
  • Metropolitan
  • Norfolk
  • North Wales
  • North Yorkshire
  • Staffordshire
  • Sussex
  • Warwickshire
  • Wiltshire

Guidelines on the use of baton rounds have been issued to chief officers of police after consultation with the Association of Chief Police Officers of England and Wales. According to these, baton rounds, which must be of a type authorised by the Home Office, are to be used only with the express authority of the chief officer of police— or, in his absence, his deputy— under the direction and control of a senior officer whom he has designated as officer in charge and by police officers who have been trained in the use of the equipment and know its characteristics.

They are to be used only as a last resort in cases where conventional methods of policing have been tried and failed or must, from the nature of the circumstances obtaining, be unlikely to succeed if tried, and where the chief officer judges such action to be necessary because of the risk of loss of life or serious injury or widespread destruction of property. Whenever practicable, a public warning of their use is to be given.

Nothing in the guidelines affects the principle set out in section 3 of the Criminal Law Act 1967 that only the minimum force necessary in the circumstances must be used. The degree of force justified will vary according to the circumstances in each case.