The Hiatt Handcuff factory closed a few days ago for good after approximately 200 years in business in Birmingham, England. The Times (London) had this story: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article4237515.ece
. The Times article focuses on potential shortages, but Hiatt made a of stockpile of product in anticipation of moving the factory, so I don’t think it will be a big problem. Going forward, there may be delays with export shipments of Hiatts products because an individual export license from the US Department of Commerce is required for every shipment out of the USA. This will delay all orders by at least a month and may limit their ability to sell to some foreign countries, agencies, and businesses. The article also states “British police prefer rigid handcuffs or speedcuffs, which are hinged in the middle.” Speedcuffs are rigid handcuffs that are not hinged in the middle. The author may be confusing speedcuffs with Hiatts Ultimate handcuffs which are hinged, but snap rigid when opened.
Here is another article in a British newspaper: http://www.expressandstar.com/2008/06/30/handcuff-shortage-feared-as-firm-goes/ . They take the same angle, focusing on potential shortages. Both articles also mention the protests against Hiatts several years ago regarding Hiatt handcuffs used at Guantanamo Bay. Again, Hiatt handcuffs were removed from service at Guantanamo early in the creation of the prison there. But why let facts get in the way of a good protest?
Here is something from the Birmiingham History Forum: http://forum.birminghamhistory.co.uk/showthread.php?t=15301&highlight=handcuffs . Some posters speculate that they were run out of the country by protestors. I believe it was a simple business decision. There were only 15 employees at the factory. The business will be easy to move and will be better integrated with the rest of the US based BAE businesses that were formerly part of the Armor Holdings Products Group.
For a history of the Hiatt company, see this link on handcuffs.org: http://www.handcuffs.org/hiatt/index.html .