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How Not To Kill People

A free public lecture at the University of Leicester on April 12 will explore The Physics of Not Killing People – The Search for Less Lethal Weapons.

Organised by the Leicester Physics Centre, the free public talk by David Wilkinson covers the work of several years in identifying and evaluating less lethal alternatives to firearms for use by the British law enforcement community. Pictured is David Wilkinson testing a hand-held water cannon.<br><br>The lecture, on Tuesday April 12, runs from 6.30pm to 7.30pm in Ken Edwards Lecture Theatre 1 at the University of Leicester.<br><br>Mr Wilkinson, of the Institute of Physics, formerly worked at the Home Office Scientific Development Branch. He said: “Less-lethal weapons are now used by police forces across the UK. CS spray is carried by most patrol officers and firearms officers now also have access to TASERs and Baton Rounds. Some forces are now allowing the use of TASERs by Tactical Support Groups. With usage of the weapons often leading to controversy, with human rights groups saying one thing and police forces saying another and with arguments continuing as to whether their use saves lives or puts lives in danger, people may be interested to know exactly what research was done to establish whether these weapons are safe and effective. <br><br>“This is an opportunity for the public to see directly how they were assessed from an impartial and scientific view point. This will increase their understanding as the public debate continues over the use of less-lethal weapons in years to come. It will also suggest to parents and school children some of the wide-ranging and interesting careers available to those who obtain a degree in physics.”<br><br>Commenting on the development of less-lethal weapons, Mr Wilkinson said: “For most of their history, police forces in Great Britain have had two technological levels of force to call upon when dealing with violent criminals – a truncheon or a hand gun. This gave them very few options and has led to many deaths and serious injuries, both to the police officers themselves and the violent suspects they were trying to apprehend. With the arrival of the incapacitant CS spray in 1996 this began to change.<br><br>“This presentation explains how less-lethal weapons work and how we understand them. It is the story of how the multitude of weapon systems in the world were tested against this operational requirement, how the numbers were whittled down to the few systems now used by the police and how their effectiveness and safety were determined.<br>“The presentation gives the theory that defines what a less-lethal weapon is. It says what the UK would consider to be the perfect less-lethal weapon. It shows why we have the weapons we have – CS spray, PAVA spray, the Attenuated Energy Projectile (Baton Round) and the TASER. It also shows why so many others did not make the grade – stun grenades, sticky glue guns, body-heating ray guns, bean bag rounds, hand-held water cannons, nets, tranquilisers, laser weapons and tennis-ball guns. It also shows what systems are currently under evaluation – long range chemical delivery and long-range tasers.”<br><br>The lecture is not suitable for younger children due to imagery from crime scene photos. <br><br>You can sign up to attend the lecture via http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/physics/outreach/lpc/booking


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