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Hiatts speedcuffs in a design of holster

Speedcuffs are a model of handcuff which were designed and produced by the now defunct UK based Hiatt & Company. They are characterised by their rigid grip between to the two ratchet cuffs, this replacing the older type which were linked by a chain. Their rigid design and the inclusion of a grip makes them effective for gaining control over a struggling prisoner, even if only one cuff has been applied.[1][2]

Speedcuffs have the "speed" prefix added to them, due to them being quicker to apply than older types. Application is done by pressing the cuff against the wrist, so that the pivoted arm can swing around and engage with the ratchet. Whereas, on older types the cuff had to be opened before application.

Speedcuffs are standard issue for most police forces within the United Kingdom

Contents

Construction

Speedcuffs consist of two conventional ratchet handcuffs connected by a rigid metal bar, which is enclosed in a plastic grip secured with bolts. Removal of the grip offers no advantage to escape, as it is only present to facilitate the comfortable manipulation of the cuffs by the arresting officer. Weighing 390g/13.75 oz and with a maximum dilation of 23.2cm/9.13 inches,[3] the speedcuffs are slightly larger than the chain linked and hinged handcuffs also manufactured by Hiatts, and accommodate a greater range of wrist sizes. They feature Hiatt's 'back loading' feature, which allows the ratchet to be pulled backwards for a few "clicks" through the lock casing to set the cuffs in the ideal position for quick application. The locks accept a standard handcuff key, and have a double locking facility which is activated through a small pin on the back of the cuff. The double locking facility must be depressed with a pointed object, such as the protrusion found on the top of the handcuff key; double locking prevents accidentally or knowingly tightening the cuff once it has been locked, helping to prevent paralysis or other injury.[3]

Application

Speedcuffs

The mechanism of Speedcuff apllication is the same as other modern "swing through" handcuffs. By pressing the pivoted arm of the cuff against the wrist, the arm can be made to swing around the wrist and engage with the lock. The officer may then tighten the cuff to an appropriate position before applying the other cuff, engaging the double locking system to prevent the handcuffs tightening further.

Owing to the rigid design, speedcuffs can be applied in one of four different positions, which also apply to hinged handcuffs but not chain linked. In British police training, these positions are termed 'front stack', 'palm to palm', 'rear stack' and 'back to back'. Many forces teach two positions to their officers, but some teach all four. The 'stacked' positions are those where, once applied (assuming a standing prisoner), the handcuffs are vertical and the wrists pass through the cuffs in opposite directions, resulting in one hand on each side of the handcuffs.

'Palm to palm' is where the handcuffs are applied in front of the body, with the palms of the hands facing each other. This is generally considered to be inferior in terms of security to a front stack, in which position it is extremely difficult for a prisoner to attempt to strike any person with their hands. 'Back to back' is where the handcuffs are applied to the rear of the body, with the backs of the hands facing each other. Rear palm to palm and front back to back are possible, but seldom used as back to back is more secure to the rear, and palm to palm is more comfortable to the front.

When these handcuffs are applied in a 'non stack' position it is more secure for the keyholes to be on the opposite side of the hands so that the prisoner cannot reach the keyhole if he or she were to have a handcuff key.

In a confrontational situation, although the ultimate intention may be to apply the handcuffs to the rear in the back-to-back position, officers are often forced to settle for the first position in which they can get both of the suspect's wrists.[4]

Risks

As with any metal handcuff, Speedcuffs may cause nerve and other tissue damage to the wrists if applied incorrectly or if the person being handcuffed struggles unduly. For this reason it is preferred to only apply them to compliant or subdued prisoners; however, this is not always possible. A particularly enhanced risk with rigid handcuffs is most evident when one cuff has been applied. As it may be used to gain control over a prisoner through pain by moving the handcuff against the wrist, care must be taken to avoid a sudden hard shock which could break the bones in the wrist or lower arm.

There is also the potential for a violent suspect or prisoner to free an arm with a partially attached cuff and use it as a blunt weapon against the officers; this is a dangerous and potentially lethal situation that can occur with speedcuffs, other forms of rigid handcuffs such as quickcuffs, and regular chain cuffs.

Media

References

  1. ^ Handcuffwarehouse retrieved on May 6, 2007
  2. ^ TheHandcuffShop: Hiatt, Model No 2103 retrieved on May 6, 2007
  3. ^ a b Hiatts Speedcuff Rapid Control System retrieved on May 6, 2007
  4. ^ Gwent Police: Personal and Operational Safety Policy (including Appointments, Handcuffs, Incapacitants) from here on May 6, 2007

External links

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