Firstly let me clarify that currently in the UK anyone can purchase, carry and use handcuffs, however if used inappropriately the application of handcuffs may be unlawful and subsequently mean that the person applying the handcuffs may break the law and leave them liable to prosecution.
Handcuffs are not specifically legislated for, meaning that they are governed by UK ‘Use of Force’ legislation,
- “Any person may use such force as is reasonable in the circumstances in the prevention of a crime, or in the effecting or assisting in the lawful arrest of offender’s unlawfully at large”.
- “The common law has always recognised a person’s right to defend themselves or other’s. If they have to inflict violence on another in doing so such action is not unlawful as long as they honestly believe their actions were reasonable in the circumstances”.
- Article 2 of the ECHR also states that “Everyone has the right to life”.
Now back to handcuffs, to remain on the right side of the law handcuffs should only be applied if;
- An offender is witnessed committing an indictable offence, i.e. if the offender had committed an offence that if found guilty of would be liable to a custodial sentence and,
- You intend to hand the offender over to the police and,
- There is still a physical threat to the security staff and,
- There is no other way of safely detaining the offender then it makes sense that handcuff application is more desirable than keeping the offender under restraint for what could be in excess of 1 hour, (my local constabulary have a target of having a police officer attend a non life threatening incident within 60 minutes 90% of the time).
To keep someone under restraint without the the use of handcuffs under such circumstances is dangerous for the offender and the security staff, it can raise the risk of positional asphyxia and injury to the offender, applying handcuffs to someone is removing a person liberty but it is a less force than it would be if no handcuffs were used.
UK Legislation on Use of Force demands that any force used must have been Necessary, No More Than Necessary, Reasonable in the Circumstances and Proportionate to the Threat. Taking these into account handcuffs used in the correct circumstances meet the ‘No More Than Necessary’ aspect of the law.
Imagine this scenario, an offender having taken cocaine or other stimulants assaults a member of staff or a third party and needs restraining as his behaviour is still a threat to all the parties concerned, due to the level of his violence, strength and endurance he has to be kept under restraint by 2 or more staff. This puts strain on the staff and the offender and in circumstances listed above offenders have unfortunately died. Now imagine the same situation however the offender is handcuffed and sat in a manner that protects his airway, it is safer for the staff, It is safer for the offender (less chance of dying), it protects your company and it complies with the law.
In my opinion security staff who have to deal with aggressive and violent individual’s should be given handcuff training.