9 December 2019
The College of Policing is reviewing its policy on Colour Vision Deficiency (CVD) tests which could allow more officers to have Taser.
Officers with CVD are currently often unable to carry Taser but the Federation has argued the existing College of Policing test is not ‘fair, valid or reliable’. So the college is considering allowing these officers to take a functional test instead.
“The current policy which pretty much means there is a blanket ban on anyone with CVD having Taser seems unfair to me and I think it would be better if people were treated as individuals and assessed accordingly,” says Tony Wetton, chair of Derbyshire Police Federation.
The national Federation’s firearms and Taser lead, Steve Hartshorn, is pushing for a policy change.
He said: “Police officers with CVD are just as vulnerable to acts of violence against them as any other. There is a genuine need to remove the requirement for a CVD test for what many see as essential police equipment. If they are in the job, they should be allowed to perform the full range of policing duties open to everyone.”
CVD affects one in 12 men and one in 200 women. The Federation is working with a St Alban’s based optician which is the sole UK distributor for EnChroma lenses. These are proving ‘transformative’ for some officers with CVD although their enhancing capabilities vary from person to person. Current CVD testing does not allow colour correcting lenses to be used.
The review comes as forces undertake a wider roll-out of Taser since only 20 per cent of officers nationwide are currently trained to use the devices.
The Federation’s national vice-chair, Ché Donald, has long led calls for more officers to be trained and equipped with Taser.
“It will save lives or prevent officers receiving life changing injuries – in over 90 per cent of encounters where Taser is introduced it results in de-escalation – so the red dot alone diffuses 90 per cent of violent incidents. Our survey data shows that 76 per cent of officers are 'always or almost always single crewed' and we also know there is a significant increase in assaults against police officers, so we need to ensure they are properly equipped to do their job effectively. Taser is part of that regardless of whether you have CVD,” he said.