Brian Wolfe

Handcuffs and Restraints

42 posts in this topic

Ever since there has been a need to apprehend a suspected criminal and transport or hold them until support (“backup” if you are a fan of the television police officer stereo-types) to arrive there has been a need for devices to render the suspect incapable of flight. I will say that not all suspects are rendered incapable of flight and in at least one case I know of handcuffs made it “inconvenient” to take fright, but escape in this case was prevented. Did you know that having your hands secured behind your back when taking flight and the officer tossing his baton so that it fowls your feet can result in severe facial abrasions and a broken nose? Let me close this part of the post by saying that sometimes a civilian with a cam-recorder can be a blessing.

Over the past 200+ years one of the leading manufacturers of handcuffs and other police equipment has been the Hiatt Company, now part of Safariland. For more information on the Hiatt Handcuff Company check out the link below.

http://www.handcuffs.org/hiatt/index.html

The website for “Handcuff Warehouse” has this to say about Hiatt and Safariland.

The Hiatt Handcuff brand has been discontinued. Hiatt Handcuffs in England was acquired by American company Armor Holdings in 2006. Armor Holdings was then acquired by British company BAE Systems. The Hiatt factory in Birmingham, England was closed in late June, 2008. BAE has moved the Hiatt factory to New Hampshire and will be making the Hiatt handcuff line under the Safariland brand. They will also consolidate all other restrains made by BAE companies under the Safariland brand. This includes Monadnock disposable restraints and NIK Flex-Cufs. Availability of Hiatt products is limited to stocks on hand. The new Safariland handcuffs are now available. (Sic)

Opinion:

In a world where everything has been subjected to the “new” look and political correctness and any thought to the traditional is purely lip service we have a company name such as “Safariland” manufacturing and selling police equipment. Safariland? Really? It sounds more akin to a company that manufactures clothing for the urban Great White Hunter look, selling items that allow the weekend outdoorsman to pretend to be an adventurer, not a company that seriously manufactures police equipment. You may be thinking that, “Brian’s blood pressure must be up again and he’s on a rant”. Perhaps but check out their website.

http://www.safariland.com/dutygear/restraints/chain.aspx

You can actually purchase coloured handcuffs! So there you go you can now handcuff your suspect with pink handcuffs. Perhaps this is really for the “kinky crowd” but if that is the case then do you really want that associated with serious policing. This is just one man’s opinion and perhaps it is better that I work in the Conservation field now. It just seems that the whole industry has slipped from good solid tradition to the fly-by-night commercialism. Yet when you are called to duty you are expected to deliver the good old fashioned service the public expects and demands.

The purpose of this post it not really to rant and rave about whether policing traditions have slipped or not as that it too subjective and the older I get the more prone I have become to be set in my ways.

The purpose of this post is to discuss the different handcuffs and restrains used in the past by British and Colonial Police Forces. I will start off, with the next entry, with an example by W. Dowler rather than something from Hiatt, which will come later. Please feel free to post examples from your own collections along with stories and opinions from your own days of service.

Regards

Brian

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W. Dowler Nipper or Come along

My first entry from my collection is a specialized type of handcuff called a “Nipper” or “Come Along”. These were intended to be used when escorting a prisoner, for example from a jail cell to the court room. The device has no key and relies in a clip to the side of the larger of the two loops for the wrists. The small loop was to be used on the prisoner’s wrist while the larger was for the police officer.

A question I have is whether this device was meant to actually encircle the officer’s wrist or did the larger loop with the catch act as a grip. I would think that if it were only attached to the prisoner the device could be twisted forward to “encourage” the prisoner to advance in a forward direction or twisted backwards to put the prisoner to the ground if the need arose.

It is times like this that I regret not having my younger brother living close by in order to carry out such experiments as in the past. However, that could be a contributing factor in his reluctance to maintain a closer relationship. The guy has never had much of a tolerance for such research, or perhaps it is a lack of a sense of humour. I would like to hear opinions on this point; the use of the Come Along not on my treatment of my little brother.

The specimen from my collection shown below was made by W. Dowler, a company founded in 1744 and located in Birmingham, England. They are better known for the production of buttons, Vesta matches, hand bells, letter balances, swords and whistles according to Wikipedia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W_Dowler_%26_Sons

This particular “Nipper” was made in the early twentieth century according to my research and looks almost exactly the same as the Hiatt manufactured specimens of the early 1900s. There is a boss where the two halves connect and rotate. The very early Hiatt examples have a flower pattern stamped or engraved on this boss.

Opinion:

The specimen featured here also has this floral design so I am assuming that this is a very early example. This would place the date of manufacture either at the very end of the Victorian period or at least well within the Edwardian period. A further assumption is that these would be generally less common than the more standard handcuffs of their times. Further to the rarity I would, based on the number of examples I’ve seen during my research, assume the W. Dowler manufactured Nipper is rarer than the ones produced by Hiatt. Again I would like to hear opinions, pro or con, regarding these opinions.

Regards

Brian

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Here is a closer view of the manufacturer's name and part of the latch device on the officer's "loop".

There is also a closer view of the latch device here as well.

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Last in this series is a closer view of the boss with its floral design, which I believe puts the manufacturing date in the earliest part of the 1900s.

Regards

Brian

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Hi Brian

My experience of the Nipper was that the small loop was placed around the prisoners wrist with the larger loop being held by the custodian. My own Force would not allow the use of them, I believe that many Forces were similar, as they had a tendancy to easily break a prisoners wrist!

Steve

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Hello Steve,

Thank you for your opinion, this is exactly what I am looking for. I've never seen these in Canada not even in a police museum. Therefore I would have to assume that Canadian Police Services never used them.

I hope to hear more from you on police items.

Regards

Brian

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Today I am posting one of my "D" type handcuffs made by Hiatt. These go back a long way but the one I am displaying today is a later type. The specimen is crudly stamped WYC with the number 592. WYC stands for West Yorkshire Constabulary, according to the seller and fellow collector. As I have stated this style goes back a ways and dating handcuffs can be difficult. One could go by the general "look" of the handcuffs and say they are early or later, however, in this case we have a good clue. The West Yourkshire Constabulary was in existance between 1968 and 1974 making this set a later example.

Another give away to age, in my opinion, is the key. I have included the key from this set alongside a key from an older set later in this post. Another time I will post an older type "D" specimen to show some more differences.

Regards

Brian

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Here are some views of the stampings.

First the WYC and as you can see it was a good thing the collector who sold these to me knew what the letters indicated as they are rather a mess.

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Ah, "British Made" still makes me feel good (check the last entry photo).

This last photo shows the difference in the keys between an early key and a later one, taken from the featured speciment. The seller felt that this newer key was a replacement as it is not numbered.

One can clearly see the move to a more simple method of manufacturing with the newer key. The older key, as you can see, is also considerably longer.

Regards

Brian

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Continuing with this theme is another pair of handcuffs from my limited collection. This is another pair of "D" style cuff made by Hiatt and dates from around 1900/1910 and marked with a number 31. This older pair differs from the "D" style shown earlier, the 1968-74 numbered 592 and issued to the West Yorkshire Constabulary, in weight and width of the shanks. I will show that later on with a compairson to the 1968-74 issue.

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Here are some views of the markings on the handcuffs.

There are no police service indication marks and I will not spend a lot of time describing what you can see in the photos.

One picture/thousand words thing. ;)

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In these final views you can see the difference in the width of the shanks.

The 1968-74 specimen measures 11mm and the 1900/1910 specimen is 13.5mm in width.

I have been informed that the wider shank was usually a requirement of the Colonial Office.

It looks like we colonials needed extra restraining. :lol:

Regards

Brian

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Hello Brian.

I have a couple of sets of these early 'nippers' as well.

Steve is right - they often broke the prisoners' wrists in the good old days.

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As for the Hiatt cuffs ................. I was issued with these when I joined in 1978 and they were used many times, to good effect. Much heavier than a truncheon. ;)

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Hello Brian.

I have a couple of sets of these early 'nippers' as well.

Steve is right - they often broke the prisoners' wrists in the good old days.

Hello Robin,

Any chance I can convince you to post some photographs of your specimens of early nippers?

Regads

Brian

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This is an example of the "D" type handcuff of the ratchet variety made by Hiatt. These were used from as early as 1900/1910 but this specimen is more than likely from the 1970s. The key, numbered 798, is a replacement for the original cuffs that have the number 368 stamped on the shank. I would say that another clue, as if an additional clue is necessary, that the key is a replacement is the style of the key itself is that a set of cuffs from the 1970s should have a key that is shorter and lacks the beaded shank as seen on this one.

The ratchet style allows the cuffs to fit a variety of wrists. A "set" size could allow a smaller wrist to slip out of the restraint allowing the suspect to flee the officer. Some members will know very well that it can be more dangerous for the suspect to do a runner and be caught than simply remaining in custody in the first place.

One of the things I've noticed about the ratchet style is that there seems to be no way to prevent the cuffs from accidently tightening up on the suspect once they are on the wrist. Modern cuffs have a lock device that the officer can activate to stop the cuffs from accidently tightening on the wrists. I will post a pair of more modern cuffs another time and discuss this feature as well as how the cuffs I have already posted work.

Regards

Brian

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This is a view of the markings on the cuffs.

Regards

Brian

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Sorry, the system wouldn't allow me to post two views together this time. :angry:

Here is the other view.

Regards

Brian

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I have hundreds of handcuffs in my collection..last count was around 684 pairs I have 30+ years of collecting and i have the largest collection in canada.If anyone has any for sale let me know.I trade buy and sell

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I have hundreds of handcuffs in my collection..last count was around 684 pairs I have 30+ years of collecting and i have the largest collection in canada.If anyone has any for sale let me know.I trade buy and sell

Hello Cuffs,

Welcome to the forum Cuffs it's always good to hear from fellow collectors and especially from fellow Canadians. Your collection sounds fantastic and would greatly overshadow my small collection which makes up a very small section of my collection. I hope you will post some images and write an article or two on the subject for the GMIC. I know that there are many collectors who would really enjoy hearing from you.

Regards

Brian

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Helo Cuffs,

Well, that blew me out of the water! What a great collection and from what you've told me it's only the tip of the iceberg.

I would really enjoy seeing more of your collection and thanks for posting these.

Regards

Brian

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Smith and Wesson cuffs Model 90 – Canadian connection

I am showing a set of cuffs made in the USA by Smith and Wesson, even though they are not British or Canadian manufacture; however they were used here in Ontario, Canada, in or about 1965, though this style of S&W cuffs dates to c.1950 as far as manufacture is concerned. The group of items show with the cuffs were all from one officer who served in the Town or Elmira, Ontario. Elmira had its own police force until it was absorbed by the Waterloo Regional Police Service in 1973. I have read that at no time did the Elmira police force employ more than 15 officers so the hat badge show in the photo is fairly scarce.

A short story about the officer who gave me these items:

Tom (last name withheld) was a very young man when he joined the Elmira Police and on his first day of duty the Police Chief dropped dead on the main street of the town from a massive heart attack. Tom’s first duty was to take the Chief’s badge and gun from the hospital back to the station. He told me that he was really starting to doubt that joining the force had been a wise idea on his part.

One of the major differences between this style and the earlier Hiatt British ratchet style cuffs is the locking device that prevents the cuffs from tightening on the wrists of the suspect. The key has a protrusion that is used to push the locking device in, preventing accidental over tightening of the hand cuffs.

I was fortunate enough that Tom kept the original box for the set of handcuffs as well as his original leather handcuff pouch. Now most police services here in Ontario, Canada, use the black nylon pouches with the Velcro closure rather than the dome fastener seen on the leather pouch pictured below.

Regards

Brian

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These next photos show the handcuffs with the key pointing to the locking device which prevents accidential tightening on the cuffs on the suspect's wrists. Since the cuffs came with only one key I decided to add an extra set and one of them is pictured along with the original. The maker's name is clearly stamped on the ring of the "new"key.

In case you are wondering why I would want a backup key, I've noticed that when anyone is looking at my collection and they are allowed to handle a pair of handcuffs the next thing you know they have fastened them either on themselves or on the wrists of their spouse. The last thing I need is to have to stop in at the local police station to have them remove a set of handcuffs because the key was lost. With my luck one of the Staffs I used to know would be on duty...I don't mind a good laugh but better at someone else's expense. ;)

Regards

Brian

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