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Hertfordshire Police Federation

Disappointment at Taser review

26 August 2021

Hertfordshire Police Federation chair Geoff Bardell has defended the use of Taser following publication of a new report by the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC).

The 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.

But Geoff said the review by the police watchdog – which examined 101 IOPC investigations involving Taser use between 2015 and 2020, a period during which devices were deployed almost 100,000 times – did not tell the full story about the use of the devices.

“We welcome reviews into the use of Taser but this one by the IOPC simply doesn’t tell the full story,” said Geoff.

“Since the IOPC only investigates the most serious and sensitive cases where Taser has been used, this review focuses on just 0.1 per cent of the overall uses by forces over a five-year period.

“It’s also disappointing that the IOPC hasn’t consulted the Police Federation of England and Wales before writing its report and making recommendations which are based on the outcomes of a tiny fraction of Taser use.

“Officers who carry Taser are given the best training and the best support. In the majority of incidents, just drawing the devices out of a holster can de-escalate a situation and they are a less lethal option when compared to firearms.

”It’s an important piece of a police officer’s kit and an effective way of dealing with dangerous situations,” he added.

The Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) national vice-chair Ché Donald was also critical of members 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,, NPCC lead for less lethal weapons, has also criticised 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 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.”

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.”

  • Photo credit Axon

 

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