The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force has started the distribution of OC Spray (Oleoresin Capsaicin), commonly known as ‘pepper spray’ to several police stations in Honiara and the provinces as from 12 August 2013.
This includes police stations located at Central Honiara, Henderson, Honiara Airport, Auki, Gizo, and police officers attached to the Police Response Team.
OC spray is widely used amongst police forces around the world to assist officers in defending themselves from physical injury when arresting a person whom they believe, on reasonable grounds, poses a threat of physical violence.
The OC spray will be issued to police officers at the start of their shift and must be returned to the station at the end of their shift where it is stored in a locked safe. Only police officers who have completed all of the necessary training will be issued with OC spray.
Approximately 900 police officers have completed the RAMSI PPF supported Operational Safety Training (OST) program, and all police officers must undertake recertification training every 2 years to maintain their qualification.
The effects of OC spray on an individual can vary, however the majority of people will experience temporary discomfort and irritation around their eyes and nose. In the event that OC spray has been used, the officer will render assistance by washing away the spray from the affected area.
Strict regulations apply for the use of force, and any police officer who uses OC spray is required to complete a use of force report detailing why OC spray was used. This report must be submitted to the officer in charge before the end of the shift. Any breaches of these regulations may be subject to investigation by the RSIPF Professional Standards and Internal Investigations Unit.
Police officers must only use the amount of force that is needed to achieve the lawful objective and must stop using force when the objective has been achieved. Police officers should always attempt to resolve incidents without force if it is possible and if it is safe to do so. The Commissioner, Provincial Police Commander or Director may suspend a police officer’s authority to use or be issued with OC spray.
RSIPF Director of L&D Inspector Bara commented “The training of our officers in the use of OC spray is an important step forward in ensuring they have the adequate skills and equipment to deal with offenders and protect the public.”