London: A teenage boy has been caught buying dangerous CS gas spray canisters over the internet and trying to import them from the US.

Police arrested the 15-year-old at his Lewisham home last week after the goods were intercepted by Royal Mail.

Police say the sprays, which can cause temporary blindness, are being used by teenagers in muggings and assaults and are becoming popular with gangs because they are easy to obtain.

The two parcels bought by the boy contained 25 canisters - some the size of a keyring - which are illegal in Britain.

Inspector Sarah Davies, head of Operation Trilogy, which aims to reduce gang-related crime in Lewisham, said: "The canisters certainly would have been used in robberies and gang-type violence or intimidation. They are an issue because they are so readily available."


The boy, who has no convictions but is believed to have connections to known gangs, accepted a juvenile caution from police after being arrested for attempting to import CS gas.

Royal Mail staff alerted police after they discovered the contents of the parcels. The firm says its London staff intercept on average 80 to 100 CS gas canisters a month.

The boy's caution comes as figures show there was a 22 per cent increase in the number of "gun-enabled" crimes in the three months of this summer. They included possession of CS gas canisters and pepper sprays, both firearms offences.