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18 May 2020
The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners (APCC) has apologised to the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW) after its use of force lead called for an urgent review of Taser training.
Last week the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) called for greater scrutiny on the use of Taser, claiming there are concerns over the “disproportionate use of Taser against black people and those with mental ill health” – something the Federation rebuts.
Martyn Underhill, APCC use of force lead, listened to the watchdog’s plea for PCCs to take action and has since written to the College of Policing and Chiefs, pushing for an urgent review of Taser training.
PFEW National Chair John Apter said he was surprised and disappointed after seeing the statement attributed to the APCC as the Federation has been working with the organisation for years on the matter with no concerns being raised in all that time.
Mr Apter contacted Susannah Hancock, the Chief Executive of the APCC at the weekend and expressed his concern over the statement. The Chief Executive apologised and clarified this was not the position of the APCC.
“I accept, for some, Taser is a contentious issue, but the commentary from the IOPC and the APCC at a time where there are ongoing high-profile investigations is deeply irresponsible,” said Mr Apter. “How can an officer feel they are to be treated fairly in any investigation when such comments are thrown around in the public domain?”
He added: “I am confident the level of training, scrutiny and recording practices after each use are at very high standard. If there are discussions on how these can be improved, then I welcome a discussion – not jumping on the bandwagon and firing out unhelpful statements which undermine public and police confidence.”
APCC Chief Executive, Susannah Hancock said: “Police Officer safety is of critical importance to us all. PCCs are fully committed to the use of Taser and continue to work with their Chief Constables on this important issue, including through resourcing Taser provision and in their holding to account role.
“I have spoken again to John Apter and will be writing to him today to confirm that it is not the Association’s position to call for a review of Taser training. Our use of force lead has expressed his own view on this specific issue, and I have apologised for any confusion caused.”
Mr Apter concluded: “I am reassured the APCC doesn’t have concerns over Taser scrutiny or training and we look forward to continuing our positive and constructive relationship.”