§ 68. Mr. D. E. Thomas
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has issued guidelines to chief police officers on the use of plastic bullets.
§ Mr. Giles Shaw
Guidelines were issued to chief officers of police in 1981 when plastic baton rounds were first made available to forces in Great Britain. They cover the following pointsBaton rounds 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.Baton rounds are to be used only as a last resort 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. Wherever practicable, a public warning of their use is to be given.Only baton rounds and riot guns of a type authorised by the Home Office may be used for these purposes. Nothing in the guidelines will affect the principle, to which section 3 of the Criminal Law Act 1967 gives effect, that only the minimum force necessary in the circumstances must be used. The degree of force justified will vary according to the circumstances of each case.