In most areas now, Specials are provided with the same equipment as their regular colleagues. While the exact type of equipment varies from force to force, typically a Special will carry a baton, handcuffs, a personal radio and some form of incapacitating spray. In addition, most police officers in the UK routinely wear a stab vest (body armour) too.
Standard Issue Kit
The beloved (but practically useless) wooden truncheon gave way to a baton in the early 1990's.
Several different types are used by police forces in the UK, a few of them are illustrated above. Each type of baton has a set of techniques for use. Officers receive "conflict training" on these skills. Batons are provided as a defensive tool, used by officers to protect themselves or others if necessary.
Many Police Officers like to purchase their own Baton Holders which are often better than the standard issue baton holders and provide better retention when the baton is stored yet keep the baton more readily accessible when it is required.
The "bracelet" style handcuffs (two cuffs linked by a chain) were replaced years ago by "rigid" style cuffs, these cuffs not only provide a method of restraint, but can be used to force a struggling prisoner to the ground, if necessary. Officers may also be issued with extra "Plasticuffs" when working public order or event security and potentially large numbers of people may need to be detained.
Every officer carries a personal radio ("PR") which they use to keep in touch with their control room. It can be a vital life-line!
All Home Office forces, as well as British Transport Police, have in the last few years introduced new digital "tetra" PRs (also known as "Airwave"). This radio system replaces the now aged analogue PR system.
The Airwave service is a digital radio communications network designed to meet the needs of the police and other public safety organisations.
The contract to provide the Airwave service was awarded in February 2000 by the Police Information Technology Organisation ( PITO ), on behalf of the Home Office. The service is based on the European open standard TETRA. TETRA is short for Terrestrial Trunked Radio, an open European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) standard for digital trunked radio.
There are three main types of Radio Earpiece which are used by Police Officers; In-ear covert acoustic earpieces, G Shape Radio Earpieces and D Shape Radio Earpieces. Officers personal preference for comfort and fit normally dictate their choice of earpiece.
Police officers in England, Wales and Scotland are now issued with an incapacitant spray as part of their personal protection equipment.
When squirted in the face of a violent or dangerous suspect, the spray creates a reaction with the mucus membranes, causing the eyes to sting and forcing them shut. It also makes the nose run uncontrollably (nice!). The effects wear off after a short time and there are no lasting side-effects.
CS spray is more commonly used, but a few police forces issue "PAVA" or "pepper" spray which has been found to be more effective in some situations.
CS Spray is normally carried on a belt mounted CS Spray Holder which keeps the spray canister attached by a lanyard to its storage pouch to prevent loss or theft of the CS Spray wh