Striking Weapons

Striking weapons are designed to be used to strike or hit an individual to make them stop or change their behaviour. Specialist police batons are one the most common types of equipment carried by law enforcement officers, although ad hoc weapons such as sticks and poles are also sometimes used by security forces to inflict injuries. This page includes information on common types of striking weapons, relevant reports, and resources.

All types of striking weapons pose  a risk to the person they are used against. Some can potentially cause such severe pain or suffering that their use can amount to torture. These abusive types include whips and billy clubs which may be weighted. Other types, such as batons, can be used in a human rights-compliant way by law enforcement. Unfortunately they are frequently used in a way that violates an individual’s human rights and causes injury. For example, batons are sometimes used to place a person in a choke hold that restricts their breathing, or to hit or otherwise injure an individual who is already restrained or otherwise under control, which may amount to torture or other ill-treatment.

Omega researches different kinds of striking weapons. We call for the trade and use of abusive striking weapons to be prohibited and for robust controls to be placed on the trade and use of regular batons and truncheons to ensure they are not used to violate human rights.

Examples of the misuse of striking weapons by law enforcement

Reports

Resources

Guide on Law Enforcement Equipment Most Commonly Used in the Policing of Assemblies
This guide, developed jointly by ODIHR and Omega, seeks to share some of the technical knowledge monitors need to accurately and independently document the presence and manner of use of law enforcement equipment during public as-semblies.
Available languages: English|Russian
Introduction to law enforcement equipment
An introduction to different types of policing equipment (2015).
Available languages: Arabic|English|French|Spanish
Practical Guide to monitoring places of detention
A guide to help people monitoring places of detention identify and document policing weapons and equipment.
Striking weapons chapter – Visual Guide
This chapter from our Visual Guide to Law Enforcement Equipment covers the different types of striking weapons use by law enforcement and the dispersal mechanism
Available languages: English