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DUMB DUM

17-09-2009

dum dum bullet

Bullets banned in warfare are used by police on the streets of Britain – and as Barbara Panvel discovers, they’re available online too.

Soft nosed hollow point bullets, banned in warfare but used by police forces in this country, are designed to spread or break up on impact, increasing the damage caused to body tissue.

They are the modern equivalent of Dumdum bullets which were developed by the British in the 19th century at the Dum Dum arsenal near Calcutta.

The First International Peace Conference at The Hague banned the use of such bullets in warfare and the ban was reaffirmed at the Geneva Convention in 1933.

Though forensic biologist Dr Alan Gunn said it was unlikely that they would travel through victims’ bodies or doors putting bystanders at risk this has happened.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission investigated one case. In November 2008 rounds fired by the police using such bullets entered and passed through David Sycamore's body. One stayed close to the scene, but the other went through a window, hit a wall, went through another window and finally was found in Guildford Cathedral.

IPCC CommissionerMike Franklin wrote to the Association of Chief Police Officers shortly after the shooting to highlight the dangers, saying: 'It may be only a matter of time before a stray bullet kills or seriously injures an innocent person.'

Should these bullets - prohibited in warfare - be for sale on the internet, let alone used by police on our streets?

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