Large Rise in UK Police TASER Use


Thursday, December 1st, 2011. 10:12pm


TASER armed officer on duty outside a pasty shop in Padstow, Cornwall.

TASER armed officer on duty outside a pasty shop in Padstow, Cornwall.

Channel Four News are this evening reporting the results of a survey of TASER use by UK Police Forces which they have carried out via Freedom of Information requests.

They have uncovered a 100% increase in TASER use in Cambridgeshire in 20010/11 compared with the previous year:

Total times Taser fired 2009/10: 9 (8 with darts, 1 drive stun).
Total times Taser fired 2010/11: 18 (18 with darts).

This has occurred despite TASER use in Cambridgeshire being restricted to firearms officers.

Elsewhere in the country, particularly it appears where non-firearms trained officers are routinely armed with TASER weapons, much larger increases have been seen. In Staffordshire where as of April 2011 164 non-firearms officers TASERs carried TASERs (the roll-out to non-firearms officers having occurred in 2009-10), an increase of 480% was found.

An 800% increase highlighted in the Channel Four article was from Suffolk Constabulary where usage rose from 2 firings in 2009/10 to 18 in 20010/11. There are a number of forces where the low absolute figures can make percentage figures misleading. The full absolute figures are presented below. There is even a force where usage increases from a level of 0, which presents a challenge to the calculation of a percentage increase.

Channel Four should not have had to conduct a FOI survey to obtain this data. UK Police TASER use statistics should be being collected, and published, by the Home Office. This is an example where proactive publication would have been much better, in terms of efficiency and quality of data, than having to resort to FOI. However the FOI requests were in my view justified as the Home Office has not been publishing TASER usage statistics in a timely manner.

The data released by Channel Four’s FOI survey is not as comprehensive or detailed as the Home Office collated data has been in the past. I have been campaigning for the reinstatement of the timely publication of TASER use statistics by the Home Office.

In January 2011 I drafted a written Parliamentary question which my MP Julian Huppert tabled. The question about routine future publication was dodged and a commitment given only to produce one further set of statistics, almost a year after the end of the period they related to.

More recently I have been seeking the TASER Statistics Publication Schedule from the Home Office. The responses I have received so far have been garbled but it appears that they are planning a two year delay in reporting some UK Police TASER use statistics, and providing much less regular reports than we have had previously.

The Channel Four data shows increases in TASER usage by all but one force (Surrey) where non-firearms officers began using TASER in 2009/10. It is possible that while TASER use by non-firearms officers in these forces got off to a slow start it is now becoming more common.

The Channel Four data does not distinguish between TASER use by firearms and non-firearms officers; if the Home Office eventually get round to collating and publishing the official figures we will be able to see if that is, as I hypothesise it might well be, one of the major areas of increase. (However as can be seen from the Cambridgeshire case this cannot be the only factor at work).

Change in TASER Use in Forces Which Recently Issued TASER to Non-Firearms Officers

Change in TASER use frequency between 2009/10 and 2010/11 in Forces where non-firearms officers began using TASER in 2009/10

Cheshire Constabulary +125%
Cleveland Police +243%
Derbyshire Constabulary +150%
Durham Constabulary REFUSED
Dyfed Powys Police +33%
Gloucestershire Constabulary +33%
Kent Police +150%
Lancashire Constabulary +200%
Norfolk Police +106%
Nottinghamshire Police +38%
South Yorkshire +450%
Staffordshire Police +480%
Surrey Police -35%
Warwickshire Police ERROR
West Midlands Police +402
Wiltshire Constabulary +21%

The average increase in TASER use for the above group of forces in 10/11 compared with the previous year is 171%, higher than the figure of 130% for all forces from which data was obtained.

More meaningful comparisons will be possible when the full statistics are released by the Home Office. One interesting metric to monitor will be the percentage of all TASER firings carried out by non-firearms officers, which in January – March 2009 was one third.

Channel Four UK Police TASER Use Data Tabulated

The below shows the data obtained and published by Channel Four:

Force Total times Taser fired 2004 – April 2010 Total times Taser fired 2009/10 Total times Taser fired 2010/11 % Change
Bedfordshire Police 57 (53 with darts, 4 drive stuns). 24 (23 with darts, 1 drive stun). 14 (14 with darts). -41%
Cambridgeshire Constabulary 31 (27 with darts, 4 drive stuns). 9 (8 with darts, 1 drive stun). 18 (18 with darts). +100%
Cheshire Constabulary 19 (18 with darts, 1 drive stuns). 4 (3 with darts, 1 drive stun). 9 (9 with darts). +125%
City of London Police 1 (1 with darts). 0 0 No Change
Cleveland Police 44 (43 with darts, 1 drive stuns). 7 (7 with darts). 24 (24 with darts). +243%
Dorset Police 59 (45 with darts, 14 drive stuns). 20 (13 with darts, 7 drive stuns). 20 (17 with darts, 3 drive stuns). No Change
Durham Constabulary 40 (38 with darts, 2 drive stuns). 10 (9 with darts, 1 drive stun). 35 (30 with darts, 5 drive stuns). +250%
Dyfed-Powys Police 11 (10 with darts, 1 drive stun). 6 (5 with darts, 1 drive stun). 8 (8 with darts). +33%
Essex Police 45 (37 with darts, 8 drive stuns). 8 (7 with darts, 1 drive stun). 15 (13 with darts, 2 drive stuns). +88%
Gloucestershire Constabulary 35 (34 with darts, 1 drive stun). 8 (8 with darts). 9 (9 drive stuns). +12.5%
Greater Manchester Police 90 (81 with darts, 9 drive stuns). 56 (55 with darts, 1 drive stun). 152 (124 with darts, 28 drive stuns). +171%
Gwent Police 34 (34 with darts). 21 (21 with darts). 14 (14 with darts). -33%
Hampshire Constabulary 35 (32 with darts, 3 drive stuns). 21 (18 with darts, 3 drive stuns). 29 (19 with darts, 10 drive stuns). +38%
Hertfordshire Constabulary 40 (36 with darts, 4 drive stuns). 17 (15 with darts, 2 drive stuns). 23 (23 with darts). +35%
Lancashire Constabulary 96 (90 with darts, 6 drive stuns). 26 (26 with darts). 55 (53 with darts, 2 drive stuns). +112%
Metropolitan Police 401 (401 with darts, 17 drive stuns). 113 (99 with darts, 14 drive stuns). 110 (100 with darts, 10 drive stuns). -2%
Norfolk Constabulary 70 (51 with darts, 19 drive stuns). 34 (19 with darts, 15 drive stuns). 70 (43 with darts, 27 drive stuns). +106%
North Wales Police 66 (55 with darts, 11 drive stuns). 15 (11 with darts, 4 drive stuns). 21 (18 with darts, 3 drive stuns). +40%
Northumbria Police 203 (184 with darts, 19 drive stuns). 72 (65 with darts, 7 drive stuns). 42 (42 with darts) -41%
Nottinghamshire Police 27 (27 with darts). 13 (13 with darts). 42 (18 with darts). +38%
South Yorkshire Police 17 (16 with darts, 1 drive stun). 6 (5 with darts, 1 drive stun). 33 (31 with darts, 2 drive stuns). +450%
Staffordshire Police 34 (27 with darts, 7 drive stuns). 5 (4 with darts, 1 drive stun). 29 (28 with darts, 1 drive stun). +480%
Suffolk Constabulary 16 (15 with darts, 1 drive stun). 2 (2 with darts). 18 (16 with darts, 2 drive stuns). +800%
Surrey Police 31 (23 with darts, 8 drive stuns). 23 (18 with darts, 6 drive stuns). 15 (13 with darts, 2 drive stuns). -35%
Sussex Police 33 (27 with darts, 6 drive stuns). 13 (8 with darts, 5 drive stuns). 21 (17 with darts, 4 drive stuns). +61%
Thames Valley Police 18 (16 with darts, 2 drive stuns). 4 (3 with darts, 1 drive stuns). 11 (11 with darts). +175%
West Mercia Police 85 (62 with darts, 23 drive stuns). 46 (29 with darts, 17 drive stuns). 27 (30 with darts, 7 drive stuns). -19%
Wiltshire Constabulary 43 (37 with darts, 6 drive stuns). 14 (10 with darts, 4 drive stuns). 17 (13 with darts, 4 drive stuns). +21%
West Midlands Police 237 (213 with darts, 24 drive stuns). 77 (66 with darts, 11 drive stuns). 204 (185 with darts, 19 drive stuns). +402%
Lincolnshire Police 13 (11 with darts, 2 drive stuns). 2 (2 with darts). 17 (10 with darts, 7 drive stuns). +750%
Merseyside Police 54 (47 with darts, 7 drive stuns). 33 (28 with darts, 5 drive stuns). 49 (38 with darts, 11 drive stuns). +48%
Devon & Cornwall Constabulary 75 (63 with darts, 12 drive stuns). 21 (15 with darts, 6 drive stuns). 62 (47 with darts, 15 drive stuns). +195%
Derbyshire Constabulary 12 (11 with darts, 1 drive stuns). 6 (5 with darts, 1 drive stun). 15 (14 with darts, 1 drive stun). +150%
Leicestershire Constabulary 22 (18 with darts, 4 drive stuns). 6 (5 with darts, 1 drive stun). 18 (13 with darts, 5 drive stunS). +200%
Kent Police 16 (16 with darts). 12 (12 with darts). 30 (29 with darts, 1 drive stun). +150%
South Wales Police 38 (30 with darts, 8 drive stuns). 13 (8 with darts, 5 drive stunS). 34 (30 with darts, 4 drive stunS). +162%
Northamptonshire Police 25 (23 with darts, 2 drive stuns). 11 (11 with darts). 10 (10 with darts). -9%
Warwickshire Police 1 (1 with darts). 0 19 (17 with darts, 2 drive stuns) ERROR
Avon & Somerset Constabulary 88 (56 with darts, 32 drive stuns). 47 (24 with darts, 23 drive stuns). 22 (17 with darts, 5 drive stuns). -53%

Source: Google Map from Channel Four News Story.

There are 39 forces listed.

Channel Four report Durham constabulary and Humberside Police refused their data and North Yorkshire police and Cumbria failed to respond. Durham was however included in the data released, and Durham do respond to FOI requests on TASER usage.

One comment/update on “Large Rise in UK Police TASER Use

  1. Pingback: UK – Huge rise in taser firings (2011-12-01) |

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.
Please consider saying where you are from eg. "Cambridge".
Required fields are marked *

*

Powered by WP Hashcash