A TASK force is being set up in a bid to boost police officer safety.
Kier Pritchard, chief constable of Wiltshire Police, said the force was also buying an extra 50 Tasers and 200 spit guards. All officers across the county had been asked if they wanted to be trained on using the gun-shaped electrical incapacitation devices, resulting in an additional 36 officers being armed with Tasers.
The new task force would review current procedures around police officer safety and see how it could be further improved.
Mr Pritchard said: “The sad reality of modern-day policing is that more officers and frontline staff are being assaulted on duty than ever before. This, quite rightly, brings a sharper focus on what police forces can do to best protect our frontline teams.”
Last month, Durham Constabulary became the first force in the country to announce plans to arm all its officers with Tasers. However, use of the devices by police is controversial for some – linked by Amnesty International last year to 18 deaths in the past 16-years. Research by Cambridge University suggested officers issued with Tasers used force more frequently.
Insp Mark Andrews of the Wiltshire Police Federation said every officer who wanted a Taser and was trained to use the weapon should be equipped with one: “We are seeing an increase in the number of assaults against our officers, many of them patrol the majority of the time on their own in rural areas where their nearest back up could be some time away.
“Tasers may not be the only answer to reduce the number of attacks and to keep our officers safe but it is a vital tool which can be relied upon.”