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Health and safety in policing: lessons from the regulation of CS sprays in the UK


  • Rappert, Brian


Recent years have seen the introduction of a wide range of weapons for police forces around the world intended to minimise injuries incurred in officer-public encounters. In 1996, police forces in England and Wales began trials of CS incapacitant sprays. This article reviews the claims and counterclaims surrounding the medical implications of the sprays with a view to asking how the uncertainties associated with them have been handled in the regulation process. This analysis casts considerable doubt on the robustness of the precautions taken and demonstrates a continuing failure for relevant government agencies to respond and learn from problems identified. Drawing on wider literature regarding the health implications of risky technologies, it further asks what policy lessons the case of the CS sprays holds for the regulation of weaponry at an international level.

Suggested Citation

  • Rappert, Brian, 2003. "Health and safety in policing: lessons from the regulation of CS sprays in the UK," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 56(6), pages 1269-1278, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:56:y:2003:i:6:p:1269-1278

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