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Sussex Police Federation

Sussex Police Federation and force PCC speak out against criticism of Taser use

18 May 2020

Sussex Police Federation and the force’s Police and Crime Commissioner have spoken out against national criticism of police Taser use.

The Independent Office for Police Conduct called for greater scrutiny on the use of Taser last week following a series of incidents in London, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands, and the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners has called for an “urgent review” of Taser training.

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.

PCCs have hit out at the statement, from forces including Kent, Dorset, Staffordshire and Surrey. Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner David Munro dismissed it as “biased, unfair and alarmist”. Katy Bourne, Sussex PCC and Chair of APCC said she did not agree with her own organisation’s position.

Releasing a statement on Twitter on Saturday Ms Bourne said: “I support our Chief Constable’s decision to issue Taser to frontline officers that want it and pass the training. Taser is a vital tool that helps keep police and the public safe, has robust training and effective local scrutiny. As Chair of the APCC I do not agree with this position!”

Sussex Police Federation Chair Matt Webb added: “I am grateful that our PCC Katy Bourne quickly came out in support of the current training and ongoing scrutiny around the increased roll out of Taser. As the Chair of the APCC she has a strong voice and has corrected the position reported in the press. I know she also agrees that Taser is an operational matter for the chief to decide on.

“Taser is an important tool that officers have to protect themselves and the wider public. It is a lower level use of force than baton or incapacitant spray and so should be available to allow officers to use the minimum amount of force to resolve any threat they face when dealing with incidents.”

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.”