BREATHTAKING; EXCLUSIVE Thugs turn asthma inhalers into pepper spray weapon.Byline: By FRANK HURLEY and KRISSY STORRAR
VICIOUS thugs are using asthma inhalers loaded with stinging pepper spray to fight off cops.
Neds and criminals in the Lothian and Borders Lothian and Borders is an area in south-east Scotland consisting of the East Lothian, City of Edinburgh, Midlothian, West Lothian areas (collectively known as Lothian) along with the Scottish Borders. area are buying the devices on the underworld black market for pounds 50 each.
They can be easily concealed in their clothing and could be undetected as a weapon when yobs are stopped and searched by an unsuspecting officer.
And there are fears that people may try and pass them on to asthmatics as a cruel, potentially fatal, prank.
A cop would be disabled instantly if pepper spray was to hit him or her in the eyes.
UK cops are taking this latest piece of criminal armoury so seriously that even London's Metropolitan Police have been put on alert.
The National Crime Information Service sent out warning posters to officers.
They tell cops that, when searching a suspect, they should to be wary if they have an inhaler and check it is genuine.
The Met poster states: "Pepper spray canisters are being fitted into asthma inhalers and being sold for pounds 50. They have an active ingredient called oleoresin oleoresin /oleo·res·in/ (o?le-o-rez´in)
1. a natural combination of a resin and a volatile oil, such as exudes from pines, etc.
2. capsicum capsicum /cap·si·cum/ (kap´si-kum) a plant of the genus Capsicum, the hot peppers, or the dried fruit derived from certain of its species (cayenne or red pepper), containing the active principle capsaicin; used as a - in a nutshell you do not want this near your face!"
A spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders Police Lothian and Borders Police is the police force for the Scottish council areas of the City of Edinburgh, East Lothian, Midlothian, Scottish Borders and West Lothian. The force's headquarters are in Fettes Avenue, Edinburgh. said: "We can confirm that we are aware of the existence of such weapons in our force area.
"Officers have been advised to be on the look-out for them and take the necessary precautions."
She said use of pepper spray by the public was illegal and anyone caught would be arrested and face criminal charges.
One senior Lothian and Borders cop said: "This is a despicable and sinister twist in a criminals armoury.
"To disguise a pepper spray inside an innocent and life-saving inhaler used by asthmatics shows you the depravity to which the modern criminal will stoop to avoid arrest.
"It also makes life that bit more difficult for genuine asthmatics because officers will be wary of anyone who may be a suspect and pulls out a genuine inhaler."
SPIKED: An asthma inhaler