HC Deb 11 June 1997 vol 295 cc442-3W
Ms Walley

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what plans he has to review the use of CS gas by the police; and if he will make a statement; [2138]

(2) what research his Department has commissioned into the effects of CS gas; and if he will make a statement; [2136]

(3) if he will make a statement on the regulations governing the use of CS gas by the police. [2137]

Mr. Michael

My right hon. Friend has no plans to review police use of CS at this stage. In 1969, the then Home Secretary, my noble Friend Lord Callaghan, set up an inquiry into the medical and toxicological aspects of CS following its use in Londonderry. The report of the inquiry was published, in two parts, in 1969 and 1971 (Cm 4173 and Cm 4775 respectively). The possible use of CS cartridges and grenades by police forces as a last resort in dealing with serious disorder is the subject of confidential Home Office guidelines. The Home Office Police Scientific Development Branch reviewed all the available scientific data relating to CS which, along with advice from the Chief Medical Officer and the Ministry of Defence, was taken into account by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) in deciding to recommend CS spray as an aerosol incapacitant for police defensive use. ACPO has provided chief officers with guidance on the use of CS spray, copies of which are in the Library. The use of any force by officers is governed by section 3 of the Criminal Law Act 1967, which provides that a person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of crime.