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30 September 2014
Police Scotland ditches CS spray

Police Scotland ditches CS spray

Police are replacing CS spray with an alternative incapacitant spray they claim is safer for members of the public and frontline officers, Holyrood can reveal.

Police Scotland has taken the decision to equip officers with PAVA – pelargonic acid vanillylamide – instead of CS spray, which was introduced across the country between 1999 and 2001.

Firearms as well as public order officers have been the first to make the switch, while the vast majority of frontline officers are expected to be equipped with PAVA by the end of this year.

In 2008, Tayside Police became the first force in Scotland to trial the new spray with a number of legacy forces said to have been considering moving from CS to PAVA.

However, CS has remained commonplace until now – despite the majority of forces in England and Wales adopting the alternative – with Police Scotland’s current stock set to expire in December of next year.

Officers say PAVA does not carry the same risk of cross-contamination as CS, which could see officers or bystanders inadvertently affected when discharged.

Concerns have also been raised in recent years over a risk of flammability when combining CS spray and tasers.

“We’ve never entirely been satisfied with CS,” Assistant Chief Constable for Operational Support, Bernie Higgins, told Holyrood. “However, the first generation of PAVA wasn’t deemed to be what we were looking for – the new generation is.

“And again, in these austere times, it’s cheaper than CS. We have to replace CS so why don’t we replace it with a cheaper product that gives us the same operational effectiveness and negates some of the issues around contamination and potential for somebody to burst into flames.

“From our point of view, it made sound operational and fiscal sense.”

PAVA hit the headlines in August this year after the Scottish Prison Service confirmed it had been used on inmates for the first time in seven years in response to a disturbance at HMP Grampian.

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