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RGP to use ‘incapacitant’ spray

All Royal Gibraltar Police officers have been equipped with an “incapacitant” spray in order to help restrain and arrest detainees when faced with violent confrontations.

In a statement the RGP said it has purchased the irritant spray following an extensive period of research and consultation with officials in the UK College of Policing and the UK Home Office as the licensing authority.

The specific variant, the “Captor II” Pelargonic Acid Vanillyamide (P.A.V.A), is used by the majority of United Kingdom police forces, having first been approved by the Home Office in 2004.

According to the RGP, it is a potent sensory stimulant which primarily affects the eyes, causing closure and temporary incapacitation through discomfort, generally lasting between 15-30mins with no requirement for any medical treatment.

Its liquid stream is a spray pattern that ensures virtually no cross-contamination to bystanders, as is known to be the case with other “vapour-type” sprays such as CS gas.

“Although it has a proven highly effective track record, no incapacitant spray is universally effective; therefore, there may be instances where it may prove ineffective against certain individuals,” the statement read.

Police restraint and control of detainees is undertaken by various means, and chemical irritant sprays are amongst various “less-lethal” tactical options currently available to UK and other European police forces, the RGP said.

In Gibraltar, the introduction of the irritant spray will complement existing tactical options available to officers including batons or firearms, who are faced with violent confrontations, where their personal safety or that of a member of the public is at increased risk.


The spray will be deployed against anyone offering a level of violence that cannot be appropriately dealt with by empty hand techniques, and violent offenders where failure to induce immediate incapacitation would increase the risk to all present.

According to the RGP, it is appropriate for use in crowds or in confined spaces due to the ultra-low cross-contamination risks.

Exposure primarily affects the eyes, causing closure and temporary discomfort. These effects will usually stop the person from continuing with their demeanour or attack, Police said.

“The RGP complies with UK Authorised Professional Practice (APP) which contains information to assist policing, and has drafted local policy procedures covering PAVA irritant sprays, detailing when and how they are used by authorised officers, their maintenance and storage, as well as associated administrative and evidential considerations.”

Safe storage facilities have been provided within New Mole House, the statement added.

Training is already underway and covers issues such as reasonable use and justification, having consideration to risk assessments and local legislation provisions governing the use of force.

Officers’ training also includes voluntary exposure to the liquid spray through either full contact or via the application of a minor quantity of the solution rubbed on to their eyes.

“These processes provide officers with enhanced understanding of the irritant’s capabilities, as well as symptoms, recovery, etc,” the statement concluded.

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