Suspend export of tear gas, rubber bullets and riot shields to US

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Government records show it grants export licences worth millions of pounds for the sale of anti-crowd gas, riot equipment, so-called “rubber bullets” and other small arms to the US – but the government’s own rules say such exports should not go ahead where they are likely to be used for “internal repression”.

After the shocking images of the police and national guard using excessive force against Black Lives Matter protesters in Minneapolis, the UK should immediately freeze all policing and security equipment export licences to the US where there’s a clear risk of further misuse – something the UK is obliged to do under its own laws.

Given the evidence emerging from numerous US cities, there’s a very real risk of UK-manufactured tear gas or rubber bullets being used against George Floyd protesters in dangerous and highly inappropriate ways – something that ministers need to respond to.

UK export data 

Though official UK Government data on export licences issued for UK arms and security equipment often provides little detail over the precise quantities of equipment sent to particular countries over any given period - nor the companies that have manufactured the equipment - in recent years the UK has approved licences to the US military and law-enforcement authorities for the supply of a wide range of crowd-control and security equipment, including: CS hand grenades, crowd control ammunition, smoke canisters, smoke/pyrotechnic ammunition, tear gas/irritant ammunition and tear gas/riot control agents. See page 667 of this link for further details. This equipment has been supplied to the US under a wide-ranging “Open Individual Export Licence” issued in 2015 (see page 338 of this link).