5 March 2019
The Government’s decision to allow student officers to be trained and equipped with Taser has been welcomed by Derbyshire Police Federation chair Tony Wetton.
However, he has called for the Government to provide the funding to enable forces to equip all front-line officers with the devices.
“The Federation’s national chair has called this decision a victory for common sense and I would agree with him on that. We’ve had queries from student officers who are keen to carry Taser on patrol. If they are capable of passing the selection and exacting training then I think Taser would be a very valuable tactical option for young-in-service officers on the front-line of policing.
“Wider availability of Taser will lead to improved safety for members of the public. The public should feel reassured that every police use of force, including the simple drawing of Taser, has to be justified by the officer and with the increased use of body-worn video officers are under intense scrutiny.”
Chief Constable Peter Goodman wants all Derbyshire officers who want to carry Taser to be able to do so, subject to selection and assessment as suitable and a further 100 officers will receive training and be issued with the devices this year. This will then be reviewed on an annual basis.
Police minister Nick Hurd issued a ministerial statement on the change of policy last week. A package for training student officers has been drawn up by the College of Policing but chief constables will decide if their student officers will be given access to Taser.
John Apter, national Federation chair, welcomed the change to a policy which had previously prevented student officers from carrying Taser.
He said: “Taser is a vital piece of protective equipment and the Federation has long campaigned for all officers – including those within their probation - who want to carry it and who pass the assessment criteria to be able to.
“The current make-up of the police service means that in some areas student officers form large percentages of the front-line emergency response and neighbourhood teams so it is only right that they should be given the opportunity to access this equipment which is proven to protect them and the public.”
But he went on to warn that there must be a significant, centrally-funded investment specifically for Taser provision.
“Chief officers should be able to make vitally important operational decisions such as these based on the safety of their officers and the communities they serve, rather than the need to balance columns on a spreadsheet,” John explained.