Giving volunteer cops CS sprays ‘potentially dangerous’ says police chief

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird.
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird.
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A police chief has hit out at plans to arm volunteer officers with CS spray – insisting it will place them in a “potentially-dangerous” situation.

Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird is backing a call from the Unison union for the Home Secretary to scrap the plan, which Mrs Baird has branded “policing on the cheap”.

The Policing and Crime Bill had its second reading in Parliament yesterday.

Vera Baird said: “Volunteers have a very important role to play in supporting policing, but not to place themselves in potentially dangerous situations.

“When the Home Secretary consulted on her proposals to increase volunteers’ powers, I said at the time she was trying to provide policing on the cheap.

“Volunteers don’t want to have some of the responsibilities being outlined by the Home Secretary, many volunteers want to support the work of police officers – not to do their jobs for them.

“The use of CS gas and PAVA spray is something that should only be undertaken by full-time officers, who are regularly trained on their usage and, importantly, in the law surrounding their use”

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: “We all want to feel safe in these troubled times, but allowing police volunteers to use CS gas and PAVA spray when they will only have had limited training, makes no sense at all.

“The Government is trying to get policing on the cheap, when instead it should be funding police forces properly.”