• July 27, 2013


The Department of Busines Innovation and Skills (BIS) have responded to a query from the League about the control and extent of the export of riot equipment which sometimes is used to repress popular dissent in the countries to which it is supplied.

Our query to BIS can be found at this link:


The response from the Department is set out below:

“Thank you for your letter of 7 June to the Secretary of State about the manufacture, import and export of riot control equipment and incapacitant gases or sprays. I am replying as Head of the Export Control Organisation (ECO), which has ultimate responsibility for licensing strategic exports.

This Department does not hold information on the manufacture of these products, nor do we hold information on what products have been sourced by UK firms from overseas. I can however provide information on the controls applying to export and import of these products, and on export licences granted and refused.

Exports of riot control equipment and incapacitating agents are controlled under both national and European legislation. The Export Control Order 2008, as amended, controls the export from the UK of riot control agents, including CR, CS and CN, as specified in entry ML7d and riot control equipment within entry PL5001. Ammunition for riot control purposes, such as baton rounds, are controlled in entry ML3a; ammunition and hand grenades containing riot control agents are controlled in entries ML3a and ML4a respectively. Council Regulation (EC) No. 1236/2005, as amended, controls the export from the EU of riot control devices specified in Annex II and equipment and incapacitating substances specified in Annex III.

These items may not be exported without a licence issued by the ECO. Unlicensed export is a criminal offence subject to a maximum of 10 years imprisonment.

All export licences for goods subject to strategic export control are assessed on a case by case basis against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria (available to view at: https://www.gov.uk/assessment-of-export-Iicence-applications-criteria-and-policv). These assessments take account of all relevant information, including the nature of the goods, the identity and track record of the end-user, and the risk of diversion to undesirable end-users or end-uses. An export licence will not be issued if to do so would be a breach of the Criteria. In particular, under Criterion 2 a licence would not be issued if there was a clear risk that the proposed export might be used for internal repression.

In making these assessments we take account of a variety of different reporting on the actual use of these goods in the destination country which includes reports from NGOs, human rights organisations, media reporting, and intelligence reports. FCO’s Posts overseas are instructed to report back on any misuse of UK-supplied equipment.

Information on export licences granted and refused, by destination, for riot control equipment and incapacitating gases and sprays is available on the Strategic Export Controls: Reports and Statistics website at: https://www.exportcontroldb.bis.gov.u k/eng/fox/sdb/SDBHOME You can view annual and quarterly data reports on the website under the “Published Reports” link from the homepage. These reports date back to 1999.

Alternatively, by registering to use the website you can create your own bespoke reports from 2008 up to the period of the last quarterly report published. To assist you further, information concerning exports of controlled riot control equipment and incapacitating substances can be searched on using the following terms:

“tear gas/riot control agents”; “crowd control ammunition”; “tear gas/irritant ammunition”; “CS hand grenades”; “acoustic devices for riot control”; “anti-riot/ballistic shields”; “water cannons”; “riot control vehicles”; “portable anti-riot devices”; “hand-held spiked batons”; “tear gas for self protection”; “pepper sprays for self protection”.

With respect to imports, items listed in Annex II of Council Regulation 1236/2005 are prohibited for import to the EU (except where the item is intended for public display in a museum). In addition, controls apply to the import to the UK of weapons and ammunition subject to the Firearms Act 1968, as amended. This includes CS grenades and cartridges, launchers, and CS/PAVA sprays.

I hope you find the above information helpful.

Yours sincerely

Edward Bell
Head of Export Control”

The BIS response, and the parallel reply from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, catalogues (via the links cited) a massive industry in exporting repressive equipment and arms generally.

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information


For comment or clarification on this news item in the first instance contact:

General Secretary, Celtic League:


The General Secretary will determine the appropriate branch or General Council Officer to respond to your query.

(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)


The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues

Internet site at:



About Author


0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
The Celtic League
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x