10 February 2022
A Force Taser training instructor is reaching out to other female officers after it emerged fewer women applied for training courses to enable them to carry the devices than their male colleagues.
Lead Taser instructor PC Lou Briscoe acknowledged there were a variety of reasons why frontline officers may not want to carry the device but urged anyone with questions about its deployment to contact her to discuss any misconceptions.
The Force has around 500 Tasers available, which means that there are enough for every officer who wants to carry one to be able to do so when on frontline duty once they have completed the training.
Taser training for a further 100 officers is being made available this year, but the Force is trying to discover why female officers appear reluctant to sign up.
Lou has now written a blog encouraging female colleagues to express their concerns about Taser.
She said: “I really wasn’t interested while I was frontline because I assumed it would bring more complaints, more paperwork and, from the point of view of working on Amber Valley which covers a huge geographical area where there were few other Taser officers available, I thought I would be left to deal with knife-wielding maniacs alone with no back-up.”
But Lou said she changed her mind as a result of her interest in becoming a firearms officer.
“I had considered whether I wanted to stay on response for the foreseeable future and after eight years felt ready for a change,” she said.
“I spoke to my old inspector, Pat Howitt, who was now working in the Ops department, and he sent Pete Moss, the sergeant on the Taser unit, to come and explain a little more about Taser to me.
“He explained that the NDM training would certainly help any future aspirations within firearms.”
Lou applied for a Taser course soon after having found out that the criteria was to be confirmed in rank, to have passed the current job-related fitness test and to have passed the AFO or advanced driver eyesight test.
She was sent on an X26 initial course quite quickly and by June 2017 was able to carry operationally.
A few months later she was upskilled to X2 and, after discussing an upcoming vacancy for a Taser trainer, applied and got the post.
And now Louisa cannot imagine going out on frontline duty without it.
She said: “I have not been on section for four years but I certainly wouldn’t want to go back without my Taser.
“For me, it was a no-brainer once I was trained, and I tried to talk everyone into carrying.
“This is a thoroughly enjoyable course and the feedback we consistently get is that it’s the best course cops feel they’ve ever attended with others saying it’s a close second to their driving course.
“I wanted to pass my Code Blue to enable me to get to a colleague if they needed help. I would now want Taser for the same reason.”
Lou said the Derbyshire Taser Training Unit was looking at some suggestions put forward by female colleagues such as Taser taster days, female-only courses and a queue system for the waiting list.
She explained feedback from women who had undergone Taser training gave an interesting perspective for those who were still unsure about it.
One officer said: “I do believe that a lot of the younger female officers are lacking in confidence and as such may feel that due to this they would be ‘unable to pass’ a STO course.
“But the course is a massive confidence builder and with it comes a much higher understanding of the NDM and use of force powers which again increases confidence.
“I think that needs advertising more rather than the focus being purely on the Taser itself.”
Another said: “Firstly, I find the courses are invaluable mainly from a decision-making point of view
“I have always been baffled as to why everyone doesn’t want a Taser, as I think it’s the best bit of kit I’ve ever been given.”
Another added: “Particularly from a petite female perspective, without it, I’d have no chance of tackling the majority of the population.
“I have spoken to numerous people who don’t want one - and challenged their thoughts on this - and I think most of the reasons are unfounded worries over unlikely situations.
“Cops are put off by the perceived extra paperwork, pressure of knowledge upskilling, taking on another responsibility when they already have too much on.”
And a fourth female officer said: “I do think a lot of officers don’t have the confidence to put themselves forward for it but that is exactly why they should!
“My confidence was shot and I do think if I hadn’t been put forward for my Taser my time to continue frontline duties was limited.
“It has done wonders for me, both career wise and mentally. It is by far the best course I have been on in terms of tactical/operational awareness. It for me is a no brainer and I would do it all again tomorrow.
“In addition, frontline is not somewhere I would like to be without a Taser anymore. The streets have changed and as such so should we.”
Lou can be emailed at email@example.com.