HC Deb 30 April 1998 vol 311 c189W
Mr. Llwyd

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many complaints have been received to date against the use of CS gas by the police force. [38523]

Mr. Michael

During police trials of CS sprays between 1 March and 31 August 1996, in which about 4,000 officers carried CS spray canisters, 45 complaints were made to police forces. During the 12 months up to 31 March 1997 (the most recent period for which figures are available) the police referred 28 complaints to the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) of which 19 resulted in investigations supervised by the Authority. Five complaints were withdrawn, eight were unsubstantiated, three are under or are awaiting disciplinary review, one is subject to criminal proceedings against an officer for assault (the complaint about the use of CS is a secondary issue in this case), and in another case an officer was found not guilty of abuse of authority. One complaint is still under investigation and the PCA granted the police dispensations from the requirement to investigate the remaining nine cases. This is allowed by the Police (Dispensation From Requirement to Investigate Complaints) Regulations 1985 where it is not reasonably practicable to conduct an investigation or the complaint is vexatious, repetitious or otherwise an abuse of the complaints procedures.

The PCA estimates that in the twelve months up to 31 March 1998 there were about 250 complaints to police forces referring to CS spray.