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Operational Policing

Less lethal options

Attenuating energy projectile (AEP) impact rounds

The attenuating energy projectile (AEP) was introduced into operational service on 21 June 2005. As the successor to the L21A1 baton round, it is significantly safer, while retaining overall effectiveness. It’s used to deal with people who are posing an immediate threat to life, during circumstances in which use of a firearm would otherwise be necessary.

Unlike predecessor rounds, the AEP is not a rigid baton. It behaves differently from previous rounds and is both distinct and safer when compared to the L21A1. For example it:

  • attenuates its energy by reducing peak forces 
  • extends the duration of impact
  • spreads the area of contact.

The Defence Scientific Advisory Council (DSAC) Sub Committee on the Medical Implications of Less Lethal Weapons (DOMILL) was invited to provide a statement on the medical implications of the use of the AEP. 

It concluded that the risk of serious and life-threatening injury to vulnerable areas (such as the head and chest) from the AEP will be less than that from the L21A1 Baton Round, which already has a low risk of such injury. 

The statement can be found at Annex 3 of the Fifth report of the Research Programme into Alternative Policing Approaches towards the Management of Conflict, available on the Northern Ireland Office website (new window).

The ACPO operational guidance on the police use of AEP (new window) is available on the West Mercia Police website.

Development of the discriminating irritant projectile (DIP)

The objective for the discriminating irritant projectile (DIP) is to deliver a discrete, localized cloud or burst of sensory irritant in the immediate proximity of an individual aggressor. 

It is not intended to cause serious or life threatening injury. Rather, it should have sufficient effect to dissuade or prevent a potentially violent person from their intended course of action, and thereby neutralize the threat posed.

The latest research developments on the DIP can be found in the fifth report of the Research Programme into Alternative Policing Approaches towards the Management of Conflict, available on the Northern Ireland Office website (new window).

Home Office websites