90 days from today is Sun, 26 May 2024
18 May 2020
Surrey Police Federation and the force’s Police and Crime Commissioner have hit out against “biased, unfair and alarmist” press statements about the use of Taser.
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.
David Munro, Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner, said the release both “annoyed and alarmed” him.
He said on Saturday (16 May): “[The release refers] to four recent cases nationally where police officers’ use of Taser has been referred to the IOPC so that they can scrutinise whether the use was correct. I have absolutely no problem with that. It is right that all officers are properly scrutinised and held to account.
“But the release goes much further. I think it is biased and unfair and alarmist. It fails to point out that Taser are very rarely used and then only under very stringent regulations. In fact, most of the time when Taser is pulled out of the holster and a warning is given, that is enough. The person who it is pointed at realises the error of their ways and the incident is closed. So they are a deterrent, rather than a punishment. I’ll be writing to the IOPC to express my dismay and request that future press releases are much more balanced.”
Surrey Police Federation Chair Mel Warnes endorsed Mr Munro’s concerns, adding that any use of force by police officers is always heavily scrutinised.
Phill Matthews, the Conduct and Performance lead of the Police Federation of England and Wales, added: “We do not recognise, and disagree, there is a disproportionate use of Taser against BAME communities or people with mental ill health – and we are certainly not aware of any concluded cases where an officer has been criticised on their use of Taser by the IOPC.
“But of course, we will wait and see if any recommendations or findings come out of its investigations, and if so, we will work with the IOPC to change policy.”