Customisable, hybrid, cost-effective solutions to violent civil insecurity


Protests and uprisings, both peaceful and violent, have increased worldwide and national security personnel need to be equipped with effective, economical, non-lethal solutions to deal with them.

The non-lethal ammunition industry is a constantly evolving field, undergoing substantial research and development (R&D). However, with no defined international standards to refer to, companies hold themselves accountable in offering innovative, effective, dynamic, affordable and safe products. The latest developments taking place in the industry, customisation, hybridisation (combining multiple effects in the same product) and refurbishment are key-elements in achieving more and reducing the cost of ownership.

Non-lethal ammunition is a vital tool that aids armed forces, law enforcement, and security personnel in crowd control scenarios. It enables the operator to respond to threats swiftly in a non-lethal manner, from a safe standoff distance and without risk of serious harm or death. Crowd control efforts across the globe have evolved, with civil unrest activities having become more diverse and challenging to contain.

According to World Protests: A Study of Key Protest Issues in the 21st Century, between 2006 and 2020, the number of protest movements around the world has more than tripled. Protests are occurring in all global regions and across all country income levels. Vandalism and looting accorded for around 20% of this study. Non-lethal and less than lethal solutions to crowd control, violent protests, and hostage scenarios are highly pertinent to quelling situations that may easily spiral out of control.

The Global Peace Index (GPI) 2021 report released similar statistics, stating that global peace has deteriorated for the ninth time in a row, last year by 0.07%. The Institute for Economics and Peace, who produce the GPI yearly, added that 73 countries experienced a deterioration in peace from 2020 to 2021. Civil unrest has increased globally by 10% during 2020.

The Institute for Security Studies (ISS) Africa also stated in a report that discontent expressed through protests and riots had increased on the continent between 1990 and 2019. This increase is attributed to economic factors such as inequality, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Protest and the right to voice an opinion is critical to a fair and functioning democracy, however when protests turn violent or serve as a cloak for bad actors, civil and national security issues arise.

Law enforcement, security personnel and national guards need to utlise non-lethal ammunition in violent protests, riots and other civil conflict scenarios to achieve the best possible outcome. Cases where live ammunition has been used in protest scenarios only ends in tragedy, often making the headline news in the country, if not around the world. The role of non-lethal solutions in civil disobedience and security situations is therefore critically important.

Stun grenades are an ideal solution to violent situations at risk of escalation. Effectively incapacitating without causing collateral damage allows security forces to achieve objectives in a safe manner. High volume noise (with customizable sound level ranging from 140dB to 180dB) and high candela hand grenades are vital tools in quelling violent unrest. The hand grenades can also be hybrid, adding coloured smoke, CS smoke (tear gas) or CS powder dispersion effects to existing sound and flash, making them even more effective. This is achieved with a side vent system, which allows for efficient delivery of flash, bang, smoke, CS powder or tear gas. A bottom vent system allows for very safe handling with the possibility for whistling, sound, strobe light and flash. This system is best suited for crowd control and additionally, a pressure deflection system for the bottom vent system increases safety and flexibility.

In a recent case in Southern Africa, extremely violent riots and looting, stemming from political insurgents, caused significant national and human security issues. The response from the police force was underpinned by a lack of non-lethal solutions. Subsequently, major economic damage was dealt to certain regions of the country and many lives were lost.

Less than lethal ammunition can be a vital tool that aids in achieving a range of operational goals. Non-lethal 38 mm/40 mm cartridges provide a reliable and effective solution to violent crowd control. The high accuracy ammunition can achieve a range of 5 m to 100 m, allowing for safe standoff distances. Cartridges can also be available in several options, including coloured smoke, tear gas as well as rubber impact with customisable number and size of rubber balls/batons used.

Financial constraint for police forces is an issue faced globally. More needs to be achieved with less. A stockpile of non-lethal solutions is not ideal in the case of a tight budget when considering it may also only need to be used erratically and scarcely. Refurbishment options designed to reduce the total cost of ownership can extend the shelf life of non-lethal solutions and ensure money is not wasted on the possibility of violence erupting from civil unrest.

The rising levels of protests seen globally coupled with the obligation of police, security and national guard forces to protect citizens and their country is a matter that requires modern solutions. Forces that are prepared with the right equipment to deal with civil and national insecurity stand the best chance at saving lives and preserving economies. The latest advancements in the non-lethal hand grenade and less than lethal ammunition industry give forces customisable, hybrid, cost-effective solutions that address their limitations and requirements.

Written by Mohammed Al Falasi, General Manager, APT.

APT is an entity within the Missiles and Weapons cluster of the UAE’s EDGE group, one of the top 25 military contractors in the world. APT offers coloured, screening and tear gas smoke hand grenades and stun grenades. Signal cartridges and illuminating devices, non-lethal ammunition and training devices are also offered.