20 August 2019
Not enough chief constables are showing commitment to allow all officers to carry a Taser if they wish to do so and this must change now, urges the Police Federation National Chair.
Today (August 20) Northampton Police Chief Constable Nick Adderley told the Daily Express “enough is enough” after a scourge of assaults on officers and says his force will become the first in Britain to issue Tasers as standard.
Responding to CC Adderley’s announcement, National Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales John Apter, said: “It is positive and refreshing to see a chief constable speak out so frankly and make a bold move, putting his officers at the heart of his pledge.
“Nick Adderley is one out of a handful of chief constables making this announcement, which is good news, but it’s incredibly disappointing to see the number of chiefs on board still in single digits– this must change now.
“Officers are telling me daily they are feeling vulnerable and often isolated due to the lack of this vital protective equipment, coupled with single-crewing, which is unacceptable. Ultimately, having Taser gives them the capability to defend not only themselves but also the public they want to protect.
“This call for a wider rollout is not new; the Federation has been fighting for many years for Taser to be available to all colleagues who want to carry it and who pass the assessment. It is deeply frustrating that I am forced to sound like a broken record by continuously urging chiefs to provide this piece of essential piece of kit which can, and has, saved the lives of civilians and officers.”
The Federation’s renewed call for a wider roll-out of Taser follows a series of high-profile attacks. Earlier this month Metropolitan police officer, Stuart Outten, survived a machete attack after stopping a van in east London and a West Midlands police officer, Gareth Phillips, was run over by a suspected car thief in Birmingham.
PC Andrew Harper of Thames Valley Police also tragically lost his life last week after responding to reports of a burglary.
Mr Apter continued: “We are very much still a country that polices by consent. And given the huge number of incidents police officers attend, the number of times Taser is used remains very small. The mere presence of the equipment is often enough to de-escalate situations making it extremely effective. Not only this, but our last routine arming survey showed a staggering majority of officers want to see Taser become more available for the frontline. What more evidence do you need?
“I have raised this with the Home Secretary, and she shares my concern and I have also made it clear that a wider-rollout must be accompanied by a significant centrally-funded ring-fenced investment.
“I know chiefs want to do the right thing but they must also be seen to do the right thing. I hear all the time from leaders within policing that their workforce is their most valuable asset - but now they need to prove it. Wellbeing needs to be more than just a poster on the wall. It is paramount that officers receive the right tools to do their jobs. It is time for all chiefs to step up to the plate to make this pledge and do this now because our members deserve better,” he concluded.
Officers in the UK currently receive 18 hours Taser training over 3 days – typically it is 1 day in other countries.
A public survey found 89% of respondents agreed police forces should be able to train and equip officers with Taser if its use is automatically recorded by Body Worn Video. In addition, 71% said it is acceptable for officers to carry Taser out on patrol.