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Avon & Somerset Police Federation

The Chairman of Avon and Somerset Police Federation has criticised The Independent Office for Police Conduct for its unbalanced report published this week on police use of Taser.

26 August 2021

Iain Prideuaux has responded to the Review of IOPC cases involving Tasers report, where the watchdog raised concerns with Taser guidance, training and scrutiny.

The report has been slated by a uniformed voice in policing, with The National Police Federation of England and Wales dismissed the review as “statistically insignificant”.

It stated: “This report makes recommendations on 101 IOPC investigations into Taser use in a five-year timescale. However, there were almost 100,000 recorded Taser usages in this period, so it is statistically insignificant.”

And police chiefs said the report by the IOPC is “vague, lacks detail, does not have a substantive evidence base.”

“Taser is an effective piece of equipment that keeps police officers and our communities safe,” said Iain. “But you wouldn’t think this from reading the IOPC report – or from the inevitable headlines which have followed.

“The report by the IOPC is based on 0.1% of all Taser deployments. How you can say this is a fair and balanced analysis of usage of the device? The fact that the IOPC did not even consult with police who use Taser means it is an unfair review.

“We can always improve and evolve our training - we do this all the time in policing. But this evolution has to take into account that my colleagues work in fast paced dynamic situations with people that are violent and aggressive towards them and members of the public.

“We’ve seen the continual rise on assaults upon my colleagues. 1,473 Avon and Somerset Police officers were assaulted on duty over the past year. That’s 539 more assaults on our officers than the previous 12 months.”

Iain added: “The IOPC needs to remember and appreciate the dynamic, split second decisions our brave police officers are having to do on a daily basis when they are faced with hostile situations.

“Rather than continually criticise us with the benefit of hindsight.”

Chief Constable Lucy D’Orsi, speaking on behalf of The National Police Chiefs Council, said: “Unfortunately, this report by the IOPC is vague, lacks detail, does not have a substantive evidence base and regrettably ignores extensive pieces of work that are already well underway and, indeed, other areas where improvement could be made.

“I advised the IOPC of my concerns and am extremely disappointed that it did not engage with policing, attend a Taser training course or consult the national independent experts who we work with whilst undertaking its initial research.

“Only 101 Taser uses over a five year period were reviewed and these were all ones that had been investigated by the IOPC. It is concerning that this only represents 0.1 per cent of all Taser uses in the same period, which totals 94,045.”