Police look at firing chemical irritants at rioters in search for ‘less lethal’ weapons, such as plastic bullets, to deal with civil disorder
Ben QuinRiot police are seen in front of fires during a demonstration against government spending cuts in London. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Archive/PA Ima
Future riots could be quelled by projectiles containing chemical irritants fired by police using new weapons that are now in the final stages of development.
Documents obtained by the Guardian reveal that last summer’s riots in England provided a major impetus to Home Office research into new-generation riot control technology, ranging from the Dip to even more curious weaponry described by Cast technicians as “skunk oil”.
The briefing by Cast for the Police Service of Northern Ireland says that last year’s disorder sparked a surge of ideas to the Home Office from the public as well as companies manufacturing police technology. To capitalise on the interest, Cast convened a “brainstorming” event in October. Participants included police from London and Northern Ireland, the Police Federation, the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) and the Ministry of Defence’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.
“No ideas too stupid or ‘off the wall’ to consider,” the briefing notes record.
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