3 September 2019
Police officers – and the public – have sent a clear message to the government saying they want more officers to carry Taser according to a new research carried out by the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) and broadcasters LBC.
Results of a snapshot poll of PFEW members shows 89% of officers would want to routinely carry Taser after being given appropriate training with nearly 97% saying their colleagues should be allowed to carry the devices.
Soaring violent crime rates and the alarming rise in assaults on police officers has made the subject of personal safety a matter of great concern, with the National Police Chiefs’ Council calling an emergency summit on officer safety earlier this week.
In the PFEW poll more than 81% of the 7,000 police officers who responded said that carrying a Taser would make them feel safer and 84% believe that would also be the case if their colleagues were similarly equipped.
In a poll of the public run by LBC to coincide with PFEW’s research, 73% of the 2,000 people asked, think police officers should be able to carry Taser.
John Apter, National Chair of the PFEW, says the results demonstrate that they public is in tune with the concerns of front-line police officers who are confronting rising levels of personal attacks in the course of their duties.
“These polls send a clear message to government and to chief officers, with the majority of police officers and the public saying they want officers to carry Taser.
“Unlike past polls, the PFEW research takes account of those officers who may not necessarily be in frontline roles and therefore do not feel the need to carry a Taser themselves with almost all stating their colleagues should be able to carry the equipment.
“Sadly, that concern for safety comes as no surprise to me or my colleagues, as we have seen violent crime soar and an increase in the number of assaults on police officers.
“I travel around the country and often patrol with my colleagues in different forces across England and Wales. They are telling me that they often feel vulnerable and isolated without this vital protective equipment,” Mr Apter continued.
But as demonstrated by the LBC research, it is not just police officers who want to see a wider roll out of the devices.
“Having Taser allows police officers not only to protect themselves, but also the public; and the fact that the public poll conducted at the same time as the police officer poll shows that almost three quarters of people think police officers should be able to carry Taser, is testament to that,” he said.
Figures released by the Office of National Statistics for 2018/19 show a 27% increase in assaults on police officers in England and Wales with 10,399 crimes resulting in assaults or injuries to officers.
As the government pledges more resources to assist the police and a commitment to recruiting more officers, Mr Apter says rank and file officers need to be listened to by politicians and they need to step up and make good on their promises to support the police.
“It’s time for the government to set aside ring-fenced funding for Taser and for chief officers to do what is necessary for their officers to be able to protect themselves and the public and rollout Taser to all frontline officers who wish to carry it,” he concluded.
The Police Federation has been working with LBC in highlighting a growing number of attacks on police officers that is rightly alarming the general public. This week the radio station launched a week-long campaign – Time for Taser – to draw attention to the calls from both the Police Federation and officers for the greater roll-out of Taser.