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Wednesday, 21 August, 2002, 13:48 GMT 14:48 UK
Met unveils new baton gun
Baton gun
Baton guns have been introduced in other forces
Police in London have unveiled a new type of weapon designed to save lives in dangerous situations.

The plastic baton guns have been authorised by the Home Office as a "less lethal" option as conventional arms.

Officers in the SO19 firearms unit will be deployed with the weapon from 1 September.

The baton guns fire a single shot at a time and identify their target with red dot.


It's a firearm, but used with proper assessment it's a safe weapon

Commander Andy Baker

It fires circular plastic rounds that can knock down a person from 25 metres when they are aimed at the stomach.

They can kill if aimed at the head or upper body.

Commander Andy Baker, chairman of the Met's Less Lethal Options Working Group, said: "We deliberately use the term less lethal.

"It's a firearm, but used with proper assessment it's a safe weapon.

'Causes trauma'

"It is an impact round aimed at putting someone down.

"It causes trauma, it is an impact weapon. But that has to be levelled against the possibility of someone being shot dead."

The guns have been introduced after in-depth research into other options by the Met.

Tests are still being carried out on tazers - stun guns with a high-voltage charge - which are used in America and Canada.

Gun fatalities

A total of 230 Met officers will be trained to use the gun.

The baton guns have already been introduced in a number of mainland police forces.

Since 1970, 125,000 baton rounds have been fired, mainly in Northern Ireland, resulting in 17 deaths.

No one has been killed by the weapon since 1994.


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See also:

19 Jul 02 | England
27 Jun 02 | England
23 May 02 | Health
07 Apr 01 | N Ireland
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