Wednesday, December 30, 1998 Published at 06:39 GMT
Police get stick over new batons
The new batons have been in use since 1993
Police forces have been warned not to allow their increasing use of American-style batons to bring in a more aggressive style of policing.
The American-style batons have been in use for the last five years and have begun to replace the traditional 11-inch wooden truncheons - first issued to police in the 19th Century.
A report by the PCA is urging police forces who are adopting American batons to draw up their own training programmes for officers to take account of British policing methods and reduce the risk of "unnecessarily aggressive" behaviour.
Most complaints in 1997 were linked to the side-handled batons, both the longest and heaviest of the types in use and deployed in 23 forces across England and Wales.
These batons attracted an average of 3.3 complaints per 1,000 officers using them.
One consequence was that officers were trained to stand ready to strike with the baton resting on their shoulder, which risked the suspect being unintentionally struck on the head or another dangerous area.
The Asp attracted 2.38 complaints per 1,000 officers, many linked to the metal tip.
'Training reduces complaints'
The equipment receiving fewest complaints was used by only a handful of forces, five using the Casco at 1.9 complaints and four, including the Metropolitan Police, the fixed-length Arnold with 1.78 complaints.
Regular refresher training appeared to be very effective in reducing complaints, the PCA says.
However it points out that Sussex, which uses rigid side-handled batons, has an "exceptionally high" number of complaints, despite carrying out training bimonthly.
Surrey police revised their training and introduced new trainers in 1996. Since then the force has had no baton-related complaints as a result.
Five other forces had no complaints levelled against them over the last year.
The PCA's report also urges police to look again at the parts of the body which were considered to be target areas.
The PCA is particularly concerned that the shin, which could be fractured, is a primary target area and the kneejoint, which could be dislocated or fractured by a baton blow, is a secondary target area.