Responding to Police Federation Calls for All Officers to be TASER Armed

One of the major stories on BBC South East Today on the 26th of June 2012 was on the call by the Police Federation (which represents police officers) for all front-line police officers to be armed with TASER weapons.

On the 25th of June 2012 the Police Federation released a letter they had written to the Prime Minister. In that letter they stated:

In addition, with fewer police officers available, there is also a greater risk to our members if they patrol alone. This risk has to be measured in the communities with which they serve, but we have a duty to equip those officers with the best safety equipment available.

The Police Federation therefore asks that you consider underwriting the cost and provision of Taser for every operational 24/7 duty police officer. There are currently 12,000 in all 43 forces in the country. We would like to see an amount that allows every officer to have one on patrol.

While only a couple of seconds of my comments made it onto the TV news, here on my website I’m able to expand further on my views, and what I said when interviewed:

While the views of police officers are important, decisions on the way our country is policed are for society as a whole. We all have to decide what kind of police force we want.

I am concerned that routine arming of all front-line police officers will significantly change how this country feels. I think there is a risk that the relationship between the police and the public will be damaged. We have a tradition of policing by consent, and not by force, and that I think is put at risk if we move further down the road towards a routinely armed police force. If the relationship between the police and public is damaged the country will become harder to police, and that will adversely impact everyone’s safety, the public’s and police officers’.

The Police Federation link their call for routine arming of officers with TASERs with officers patrolling alone; this argument was used to justify trials of issuing TASERs to non-firearms officers in rural areas, however TASERs are being used in city centres in situations where many police officers are present.

I fully support firearms officers having access to TASER to use as an alternative to a conventional firearm; it is the routine arming of patrolling and response officers which I oppose. I am concerned that increased deployment of TASER weapons will lead to an escalation in the amount of force used by the police in the UK, in areas, such as Devon and Cornwall, where we have seen non-firearms officers routinely armed with TASER, we have seen TASER use increase.

The BBC South East Today piece was generally excellent, but there were two points I think that are worth clarifying.

  • The report states government will take the decision on arming front line officers with TASER or not. In fact this decision is being taken by police authorities at a local level around the country; as it stands the decision will be one for elected Police and Crime Commissioners. Personally I think it’s important that we have consistency in policing across the country, and don’t like the situation we already where while only firearms officers have TASER currently in the Met Police area and in Cambridgeshire, if I visit many other places in the UK the police are already routinely patrolling with TASER. Localism in policing is necessary, but I think it would be right for the government nationally to say we are not going to have officers routinely armed with TASER as they patrol, or respond to incidents, in the UK.
  • The report to a small extent links the deployment of TASER with last summer’s riots. The riots were another matter raised in the Police Federation letter, but there was no link between the two. TASERs are not suited for use in public order situations, a position which has been expressed by a Home Office minister. In addition it is ACPO’s position that TASER should not be deployed in public order / protest situations. . Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights’ Seventh Report: “Demonstrating respect for rights? A human rights approach to policing protest” has a section on TASERs which quotes a senior police officer saying:

    TASER is such that it should not be deployed against large numbers of people and officers are trained to use other options when dealing with these situations

    the report also quotes a minister’s view:

    I cannot see a situation in which it would be appropriate to use TASER to control demonstration or protest.

    The committee expressed its view on the subject stating:

    We were pleased to hear the Minister’s and ACPO’s unequivocal statements that TASERs should not be used on protestors.

Raw Document:

8 responses to “Responding to Police Federation Calls for All Officers to be TASER Armed”

  1. On the 27th of June 2012 I debated issuing TASERs to all front line officers with Ian Pointon, the chair of the Kent Police Federation, on BBC Radio Kent.

    Mr Pointon argued that there are no lasting effects from a TASER after the current is switched off.

    TASERs stop people’s muscles working, and they fall to the floor, the fall can be very harmful as people are unable to control their fall in any way at all. In addition there are other concerns including muscle damage, and potential effects on the heart.

  2. I’m afraid I have to disagree with you, in that if police aren’t routinely armed with at least a TASER then they will get pushed out of areas getting rougher and rougher. Sad to say goodbye to policing by consent, but if the London riots taught us anything, its that if enought people don’t consent to police presence things get very bad very quickly.

  3. The fact of the matter is to deploy a taser is far les damaging than hitting someone with a 21 inch metal bar. The use of this equipment is faster, less harmful and more effective. I’ve have seen it in use and 9 out of 10 times a person will cooperate when having a taser pointed at them rather than a black metal bar, or pava incapacitating spray.

  4. The use of taser has increased because more officers have them !! I have carried one for nearly two years on patrol and have never felt the need to discharge however there have been many occasions where the tasers presence or reminding people of its presence has bought potentially volatile situations under control. This is about controlling violent people to reduce the risks and injuries to all parties involved.

  5. “I cannot see a situation in which it would be appropriate to use TASER to control demonstration or protest.

    The committee expressed its view on the subject stating:

    “We were pleased to hear the Minister’s and ACPO’s unequivocal statements that TASERs should not be used on protestors.”

    So they’ll just stick to pepper spray in Cambridge then?

  6. To be honest I’m a little sick of how childishly scared people are to the issuing of tasers to the police. People seem to be forgetting that it is the police! UK police are not trigger happy and will not shoot you with 50000 volts because you look at them wrong. in the 80’s people were against the idea of CS spray being issued! and look how that turned out. I hate to say it but guys this isnt the 70’s where people respected the police for helping old ladies across the street or showing people to famous landmarks. These days its LONDON RIOTS!!! and TERRORIST ATTACKS!!! christ! why arnet the police being armed with normal guns the amount of crap they deal with every day putting there lives on the line even for something as simple as stopping anti social behaviour. Can’t people stop being so selfish and accept that the police have to evolve from the 70’s , and they have a right to protect themselves. Will there be a change in the way the public and police see each other Yes there will but it is guaranteed that they will eventually and it should start now! Tasers I think are the least that they can be armed with and I salute every officer on the front-line for protecting our communities night and day.

  7. In January 2015 I discussed proposals for a wider roll out of TASER with the Police Federation’s chair Steve White:

    On the 9th of February 2015 the Police Federation voted to support arming all officers who want to be armed with TASER with the weapons:

    The ACPO response doesn’t

    • make clear any decision to routinely arm our police with TASER weapons is a question for wider society and not just the police themselves.
    • consider the impact on police – public relations and if arming more officers with TASER will make the country harder to police. /li>

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