Handcuffs – The Police Officers Helpers

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Handcuffs – The Police Officers Helpers
There is no doubting the usefulness of handcuffs to police, but how did they come into existence? The majority of police officers carry with them handcuffs or restraints of some form. handcuffs are part and parcel of the police officers every day duty gear, and they will rarely not have some form of restraint with them on their patrol. When did handcuffs come into existence? Moreover, what are their origins? We take a trip back in time with the word handcuff, as it is a corruption of the Anglo-Saxon word ‘Handcop’, which means something which catches or cops the hands.

handcuffs are not a modern invention. They even exist in mythology and Virgil tells us that Arstaeus captured the prophet Proteus with handcuffs. Mythological or not the handcuff of today is a much-valued piece of police equipment. In the 4 th century B.C soldiers of the conquering Greek army found chariots full of handcuffs. handcuffs are also mentioned in the Book of Psalms: To bind their kings in chains and their nobles in fetters of iron. Now what could they be other than handcuffs.

In early Saxon times, handcuffs wouldn’t have differed very much to what we still have to this day. Interestingly the word ‘Handcop’ is not used in the 15 th and 16 th centuries. The words changed to ‘swivel manacle’ and ‘shack bold’, which was often used in Elizabethan times. So handcuffs have a rather long and possibly chequered history, but their effectiveness isn’t in question given how long they have been in existence. Something that is still in such wide usage after all this time is obviously very effective at what it does. There can be very little in police officers equipment that has been in constant use over so many years.

Up until round about 1850 there were two forms of handcuffs in use in England. One form went by the name of figure 8, for obvious reasons as it looked like the number 8. These types of cuffs would have offered little movement to those unfortunate enough to be enclosed in them. Such restrictive handcuffs tended to be used on violent prisoners as it kept their hands in a rigid fixed position. Such handcuffs would have been extremely painful so would likely have been used as restraint and punishment.

There were many forms of handcuffs, many of which look and were particularly barbaric. What of the more modern forms or versions of handcuffs? Obviously, things in the handcuff department have improved over time and we now have several well-known manufacturers such as Smith & Wesson and Hiatt. Today’s handcuffs are much more humane and less likely to cause injury to those in them. The manufacturing of the handcuffs is to exacting standards given that they are used to restrain people. There are chain linked handcuffs and more restrictive designs that are hinged and have greater restrictive properties.

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