Attack alarms are a regular feature at fresher stalls, but “Bouncer Spray” is the newest product aimed at protecting students from being attacked — but they’re being warned not to use it.
VestGuard UK Ltd originally developed the product for bouncers, hence the name, but hope that it could protect students, too.
Unlike the attack alarms that make a loud noise to draw scare the attacker and draw attention to the situation, the spray not only deters attackers, but helps police to track them.
“The ‘Bouncer Spray’ releases a repulsive odour, as well as emitting an invisible UV dye, designed to help identify an attacker to the police,” VestGuard UK says.
They add that the “distinctive repulsive odour” also helps in finding witnesses who may have seen the attacker. The dye stays on clothes for up three days, increasing the chances of the attacker being caught.
Whilst this may seem like a unique way to not only prevent attacks but also trace the attacker, Lincolnshire Police does not support the use of the spray and is actively trying to discourage door staff and companies from using this and similar products.
They say that using the spray could do more harm than good in a serious situation.
Mark Garthwaite, neighbourhood police inspector for Lincoln centre, says: “It’s all very well for someone to carry this, but say for example a student is attack while carrying this, they go to use it and it is taken off them, it can be used against them to incapacitate them and could make a serious situation even worse.”
Not only that, but using the spray risks further upsetting an attacker. Garthwaite explains that because sprays, including CS spray, are psychological, it isn’t effective on everyone: “CS spray is only effective on 70% of the population because if someone’s got a positive mindset, or they have mental issues which means they can override pain, they don’t feel it.
“So if you’ve got a student… who sprays this stuff, it doesn’t work on the offender, but may actually get blown back in their face and affect them. Again, it can make a very bad situation even worse.”
There are several such sprays on the market, some of which also contain mace, a noxious substance that is banned in the UK. “Bouncer Spray” does not contain the substance, but those that do are breaking the law.
“The problem is that it’s an irritant spray and it’s the equivalent our CS spray… so we have concerns,” Garthwaite says.
He explains that anything that “emits a noxious fluid is a fire arm” and therefore should not be used under section five of the Firearms Act.
Garthwaite also says that spraying an attacker “technically constitutes an assault” and it could then go to court to decide whether using it in self defence was proportionate to the attack.
“We don’t, at all, endorse the use of this kind of thing,” he says. If students do wish to carry something to make them feel safer at night, he suggests carrying panic alarms, and he points out that CCTV helps to trace offenders.
“We [Lincoln] have a fantastic CCTV coverage, all our door staff are linked to the Door Watch scheme so they’ve all got radios linked to CCTV who directly link to us, so that is our method of tracking offenders rather than asking people to use this sort of spray,” he says.Tweet