26 August 2021
The use of Taser has been defended by the Derbyshire Police Federation chair following the publication of a report by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).
Tony Wetton said the IOPC review into 101 cases over five years where it had carried out investigations was not representative of the almost 100,000 times Taser was deployed during the same period.
He said the review should have also involved consultation with the Federation.
Tony said: “Taser provides valuable protection for police officers facing dangerous situations, and we welcome the foreword to the report by IOPC director general Michael Lockwood in which he acknowledges this.
“It is a vital piece of equipment that can often de-escalate a situation. Officers are highly trained to use Taser and the service is committed to using it appropriately.
“We welcome reviews into its use, but this review of just 101 cases out of almost 100,000 certainly doesn’t paint the full picture, particularly when you consider that all of those examples come from incidents which had resulted in an IOPC investigation. It’s far from representative of the day-to-day use of Taser, which we know saves lives and prevents injuries. And it’s important to take into account that the body representing over 130,000 frontline officers was not consulted, and neither were the NPCC, College of Policing or other organisations with knowledge of policing.”
Ché Donald, national vice-chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), was also critical over the Federation being left out of the consultation process.
He said: “For many years, PFEW has fully supported the IOPC’s desire to seek improvements to national Taser guidance and training. Police officers are the practitioners of Taser and would ultimately be affected by these recommendations if implemented. We are naturally disappointed our 130,000 members were not consulted.”
Chief Constable Lucy D’Orsi, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for less lethal weapons, also weighed in with criticism of the review.
She 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 improvements 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 with whom we work whilst undertaking its initial research.”
In terms of the 101 Taser uses considered, she added: “Focusing on these smaller number of cases missed an opportunity to consider Taser use more broadly and, unfortunately, has resulted in recommendations which are mostly out of date and not based on the realities of policing. The focus on such a small data set ignores good practice and learning elsewhere.”
The IOPC report has made 17 recommendations to the College of Policing, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, and the Home Office seeking improvements to national guidance and training; scrutiny and monitoring of Taser use; and data and research.
Photo courtesy of Axon.