“No ideas too stupid or ‘off the wall’ to consider”
A November 2012 briefing by the Home Office’s Centre for Applied Science and Technology (CAST), ‘The Development of New Less Lethal Technologies’, reveals that the 2011 UK riots provided a major impetus to Government research into “new-generation riot control technology” – police weapons. A CAST brainstorming event on the subject attracted participants including 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. CAST’s briefing for the event states that there are “No ideas too stupid or ‘off the wall’ to consider”.
Discriminating Irritant Projectile
Currently in development as a potential replacement for plastic bullets, the police hope that the DIP will be able to deliver a non-lethal, “discrete, localized cloud or burst of sensory irritant in the immediate proximity of an individual aggressor”. It is suggested that the DIPs will be accurate at a range of up to 65 metres, using guns currently used to fire plastic bullets to fire “projectiles containing chemical irritants”, “loaded with CS gas, pepper spray or another irritant”.
Similar to devices used by troops in Afghanistan, and already trialled by police here in the UK, a shoulder-mounted laser emits a blinding wall of light, temporarily impairing the vision of anyone who looks towards the source. Costing £25,000, the SMU 100 resembles a rifle and can dazzle and incapacitate targets up to 500m away with a wall of light up to three metres squared. “The intense beam causes a short-lived effect similar to staring at the sun”, which forces the victim to turn away – the gun is also fitted with an infrared scope which can be used to spot looters in poor visibility. CAST believe the use of lasers “has merit” and that it will be piloted by at least one police force. However, they have yet to be satisfied that the technology (initially developed for military use) does not cause long-term health damage before it can be approved by the Home Secretary.
A dazzler is a directed-energy weapon intended to temporarily blind or disorient its target with intense directed radiation. Targets can include sensors or human vision.
Dazzlers emit infrared or invisible light against various electronic sensors, and visible light against humans, when they are intended to cause no long-term damage to eyes. The emitters are usually lasers, making what is termed a laser dazzler. Most of the contemporary systems are man-portable, and operate in either the red or green areas of the electromagnetic spectrum.”
A CAST project involving the firing of foul-smelling liquids from paintball-style guns, with the intention of forcing the victim to find a change of clothes, and thus separate them from their associates.
Other Police Weapons
‘Less lethal’ technology that’s also known to have been studied by the Home Office since the 2011 riots includes heat rays, sound weapons, ‘counter laser dazzle’ tech, and a ‘wireless electronic interceptor’ that can be fired a greater distance than Tasers.