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28 February 2019
Established front-line police officers need to be trained in the use of Taser and issued with the devices before any roll-out to student officers.
That is the view of West Midlands Police Federation chair Rich Cooke who was responding to a statement from police minister Nick Hurd on the decision to allow student officers access to Taser.
Rich explained: “We want all our front-line, and potentially custody, officers to have Taser. However, only around 40 per cent of officers will actually be issued with one after the present uplift within the Force. So this Government decision is rather academic.
“We need our established officers to be trained in the use of Taser and issued with them before we can even think about getting our student officers trained. Fundamentally, I see no reason why student officers shouldn’t be trained to use Taser but, as with so many other things, it’s a question of priorities particularly when police chiefs are struggling to match reduced resources with increased demand due to the Government’s cuts programme.”
The decision to allow student officers access to Taser has been hailed as a ‘victory for our members and for common sense’ by the national chair of the Police Federation, John Apter.
A package for training student officers has been drawn up by the College of Policing but chief constables will decide if their student officers will be given access to Taser.
John said: “Taser is a vital piece of protective equipment and the Federation has long campaigned for all officers – including those within their probation - who want to carry it and who pass the assessment criteria to be able to.
“The current make-up of the police service means that in some areas student officers form large percentages of the front-line emergency response and neighbourhood teams so it is only right that they should be given the opportunity to access this equipment which is proven to protect them and the public.”
But, with no Government funding for the shift in policy, he went on to warn that there must be a significant, centrally-funded investment specifically for Taser provision.
“Chief officers should be able to make vitally important operational decisions such as these based on the safety of their officers and the communities they serve, rather than the need to balance columns on a spreadsheet,” the national chair concluded.