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Kent Police Federation

Importance of Taser for police officers - Hindsight is easy, day to day policing isn’t

18 May 2020

Kent Police Federation and the force’s Police and Crime Commissioner have spoken out against national criticism of Taser training.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct issued a press release last week calling for greater scrutiny of Taser use, following incidents in Greater Manchester, London and the West Midlands.

Director-General Michael Lockwood said the IOPC was “aware of concerns from a broad range of stakeholders about disproportionate use of Taser against black people and those with mental ill health.”

Although the IOPC failed to say who those concerns came from.

But Neil Mennie, Kent Police Federation Chair, said: “Let’s be clear. The real dangers faced by our members are quite often spontaneous and unexpected and require them to make difficult and challenging judgements. Use of force of any type is a last resort and in order to end these incidents as safely as possible for all involved.

“Our members should be able to use Taser and any force with confidence where it’s justified and any hesitation or reluctance based on the consequences of future scrutiny is nothing short of dangerous itself. Here in Kent, the Federation continues to welcome the Taser rollout and the support of our Chief Constable and the Kent Police and Crime Commissioner. Hindsight is easy, day to day policing isn’t.”

Kent PCC Matthew Scott said in a Tweet this weekend: “Taser is a vital tool that helps keep police and the public safe, has robust training and effective scrutiny locally. I supported Kent’s Chief Constable to role it out to all frontline officers who want one and pass the training. I don’t agree with this supposed ‘APCC position’.”

Neil added: “It’s not unreasonable for officers and forces to be held accountable. However when does scrutiny become an exercise in opinion and undermining officers’ ability to use their training and skills to protect the public and themselves? One of the most important changes our members have benefited from in recent times is the wider rollout of Taser.

“There will always be incidents in policing that attract controversy and we have all seen the headline stories and media clips where everyone other than those involved hold a kangaroo court. This is an unfortunate additional scrutiny with most of the circumstances and evidence missing. What do we do in these circumstances? We stay silent and professional and look for the support and impartial investigation that follows. This requires confidence in the fairness of that process and the confidence to use Taser or indeed any use of force where it’s justified.”