The Metropolitan Police is to arm all of its firearms officers with a lethal type of ammunition known as “hollow point” bullets which flatten and expand upon penetration, causing maximum damage to tissues and vital organs. The use of these rounds are prohibited in warfare under the Hague Convention.
Wikipedia describes hollow point rounds as being “intended to cause the bullet to expand upon entering a target in order to decrease penetration and disrupt more tissue as it travels through the target.”, “maximizing tissue damage and blood loss or shock.”
The Met says that the rounds are less likely to harm bystanders, as the bullets are less likely to over-penetrate and harm others when used in crowded spaces. These special rounds were used in the shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian who was falsely identified as being a suicide bomber, and was shot dead in 2005. The BBC says: “After it emerged he was killed with the ammunition, cousin Alex Pereira said: “I am shocked and angry. I had no idea. How can the police in the UK use bullets that the Army is not allowed to use?”
According to Channel 4 news, “talks have begun with other police forces to make this type of bullet standard issue in time for the 2012 Olympics.” The head of the Met’s Firearms Unit, Commander Jerry Savill, said he was confident that it will be standard among all UK police forces by next summer.
These special rounds are already standard issue in France, though whilst being used in police ammunition, hollow point rounds are prohibited in warfare under the Hague Convention, due to their being seen as inhumane to opposing soldiers.
David Dyson, a barrister and ballistics consultant, commented on the use of the ammunition. Asked whether the rounds were unsurvivable, he said: “Yes. They don’t use these bullets in the anticipation that people will survive. They expand, so you get the mushroom effect when the bullet hits the body.”
“Much more energy is being imparted into the victim.”
Mr Dyson added that deer stalkers are compelled to use them because they do not go right through the animal.