Thank you 1st Peter & 2nd Peter. I have been reading Mr Mitton's posts and even as a layman, they are very thought-provoking.
Could I begin again and stress that I am here to learn and draw upon everyone's experiences. I certainly don't wish to begin by upsetting anyone. I don't have an anti-Police bias, being 5-0 myself (honest).
In addition, I hope that my question about filled truncheons is not the only one anyone looks at.
I should make it clear that I have never carried a truncheon; I am came in as PR-24's were being withdrawn. I am therefore reliant on speaking to people who carried one and from written sources, which are unlikely to address a practice, which, if it occurred at all, would been done covertly. It is also obvious that even if what appears to be a lead-filled former Police truncheon does turn up in someone's collection, then who is to say that the filling did not occur post Police service.
I still think the question about filled truncheons is worth exploring.
My thinking around the subject is this (apologies, it's a bit lengthy).
1. I don't think it is in doubt that impact weapons have, on occasion, been lead filled.
2. I don't think it is in doubt that British police officers have, on occasion, chosen to ignore rules and guidelines; "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone".
3. I fully appreciate that just because some old lag goes round telling everyone that the only reason the Old Bill bested him was because they were using lead filled truncheons doesn't make it a fact. But without getting too post Modernist, I am interested in perceptions also. And there is or was a widespread perception that the police in Britain have used lead filled truncheons - allegations of this nature are documented during the Miners' Strike for example. Again, I stress that merely because this is a widespread belief, it doesn't make it true.
4. However, the sense I have, from speaking to those who carried a truncheon, is that it was not considered to be an effective piece of kit. Certainly the Police Federation did not campaign for it to be replaced because it was just too effective as a means of self-defence. If it was the only tool in the tool box other than your fists, the temptation exists to augment it.
5. A loaded truncheon does not seem to be a vast burden. The standard truncheon weighed about 15 ounces. The baton I'm issued weighs about 22 ounces. The issue PR-24 weighed between 22 and 29 ounces, depending on model. An 8 ounce padlock, which I will use to represent a lead load, would do a horrifying amount of damage if used independently as a weapon; a "lock in a sock". I'm not aware that the issue baton registers a lot of complaints with colleagues due to being hugely heavy; I don't find it so. However, the fact remains that officers don't like to use their batons. The confidence isn't there. Even the current, heavier, expandable batons are considered ineffective, hence officers rely on PAVA spray and, for those who have it, Taser. Where I work, the safety trainers are pushing for the introduction of heavier batons. Recognising that not everyone needs a heavier baton, the proposal was (as last I heard) that we go back to the previous Three Bears system of baton issue. You could have long, medium or short, corresponding to heavy, medium or light (just as truncheons used to be standard, CID or female). It was pointed out that tests on the medium showed that it exceeded the current model in terms of striking power. It was pretty evident in the PPE recertification that I attended, where they demonstrated the new models, that most officers wanted to go large.
6. The most commonly quoted example of officers allegedly using lead filled truncheons is the death of Blair Peach in 1979 from a skull fracture. There is a great deal of what, can charitably called, misinformation around this. Whatever object struck the blow which killed Mr Peach, it seems it was not a lead filled truncheon - this was ruled out in the PM (or at least deemed "most unlikely"). However, the actual implement used was likely a very weighty instrument without a hard edge. It does not seem to be in dispute that Peach died due to be struck by a Police officer using some sort of implement, possibly a radio in a leather case. My point is that the seemingly exhaustive Met Police investigation thereafter demonstrated that the likely suspects, then assigned to the Special Patrol Group, were a) carrying unauthorised truncheons on the day and b) one had a lead filled cosh in his locker (albeit established not to be the weapon used to strike Peach). A number of other unauthorised weapons were also recovered. What I am driving at is that it seems most unlikely that this was he first time in history a British officer used an unauthorised impact weapon on an individual. Mr Peach had an unusually thin skull (as stated in the PM) which was a contributory factor in his death. And then, due to the racial and political overtones of this incident, this resulted in a large-scale investigation which found that officers in that serial were not using standard truncheons. Which brings me to:
7. Production of appointments. An officer was required to display his appointments, including his truncheon, at the beginning of his shift, to his supervisor. This was a long-standing practice but not one which continues to the present day. Officers don't have to produce their batons for examination anymore (which all sounds a little Carry On). Why did this practice last so long? The most obvious is to ensure that the officer hasn't forgotten or lost the items he is supposed to have with him on duty. However, any occasion on which an officer actually employed his truncheon necessitated a supervisor examining said truncheon. Officers are not children and we can assume that if if a truncheon was split or broken due to usage, this would be identified by the relevant officer so that he could get a new one. Surely at least part of the reason for this practice was because officers DID modify truncheons.
Any road, sorry about the length.