What is OC Spray and Foam?
Olerisin Capsicum (OC) spray was introduced to Victoria Police in 1995 for use only by members of the Special Operations Group. The spray was introduced in Victoria as an alternative to lethal force following a ten year period from 1984-1994 in which there were 30 fatal shootings of suspects by police. By 1998 the deployment of OC spray was permitted by all operational police officers who had completed a 2 day training. Since that time, its subsequent assignment to Protective Services Officers (PSO) has raised further community concern and resulted in numerous incidents of misuse.
New Report due out soon
The Police Accountability Project commenced research into OC Spray against the backdrop of increasing complaints against police and public transport officers for excessive force and inadequate police accountability processes. The report will explore the nature of and introduction of OC Spray and Foam in Victoria and assesses documented discrepencies between Police policy and conduct.
Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) spray, more commonly known as pepper spray is a product used by state authorities in Victoria as a ‘non-lethal use of force’ alternative. It is manufactured from hot cayenne peppers from the capsicum family and has the strong potential to decapascitate the individuals it is used against.
The active ingredient that creates the burning sensation in OC spray is Capsaicin. Capsaicin is a chemical derived from plants of the capsicum and chilli family. It is extracted by grinding the plant matter into a powder and the use of a solvent such as ethanol. When the solvent evaporates, the waxy resin ‘oleoresin capsicum’ remains.An emulsifier is used to suspend the substance in water and is then pressurised to make it aerosol.
Oleoresin Capsicum Spray/foam is an inflammatory agent. It’s common symptoms include immediate closing of the eye/temporary blindness, difficulty breathing, runny nose and coughing/weezing.
The view taken by law enforcement in Victoria after initial trials was that it was a viable less-than lethal tactical option for violent confrontations:
‘Oleoresin Capsicum spray is a proven, very effective and suitable less-than lethal tactical option for Victoria Police to safely conclude violent/potentially violent confrontations and reduce the risk of injury to the public and offender in accordance with force philosophy.’
Multiple incidents, such as that experienced by Saab Hasan on Melbourne Cup Day 2017, point to its increasing misuse and potentially unlawful application by police as a method to enforce compliance with police directions.