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Civil Defence Supply
Research, development, testing, manufacture, supply and training of specialised Defence and Law Enforcement products
Police Support Units (PSU’s) originally had a World War 3 Cold-War role to play which was rapidly re-organised into riot squads in a mobile formation ready for rapid-deployment. Their next ‘test’ was The Miner’s Strike.
The Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’ continued throughout the mainland British riots. The Army supplied ballistic vests, metal riot shields then polycarbonate shields as well as visors attached to standard issue combat helmets later replaced by a properly designed riot helmet and visor
Those same military helmet and visor were rapidly issued to some UK police forces during 1981 as a stop-gap solution
UK Mainland Rioting 1981
In 1981 the UK police faced extensive rioting cross the Country just as Civil Defence Supply was exporting a massive consignment of riot kit to the Middle East that was then diverted to Toxteth in Liverpool where CDS delivered kit directly into Hope Street Police Station equipping police formations who deployed onto Upper Parliament Street. Seeing Swainbank’s store in the Rialto in flames on television and in newspapers brought to police chiefs, the British population and to politicians the realities of inner city rioting; something mainland United Kingdom hadn't yet seen but so common in Northern Ireland such as Belfast and Derry since the 1960’s.
In the mid-1970’s the Metropolitan Police had designed the National Shield and basic riot tactics were trained at Hendon and Hounslow Heath however there was no special riot-equipment issued apart from the shield leaving police officers to survive petrol bomb attack and thrown missiles wearing normal duty uniforms. The traditional British police helmet did have a reinforced option called the Riot Topper and a very crude eye-guard called the Spander Mk.2 was issued that clipped onto the peak but as you can see from the photo above serious facial, shoulder, arm and leg injuries put many officers into hospital and months off-sick severely depleted manpower.
These were the beginnings of Home Office police scientific research into the possible use of CS gas (as used in Northern Ireland) and proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) . The other significant result of these riots was the creation of national planning for disorder which paid dividends when the next national crisis occurred some time afterwards.