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Suffolk/UK: Concerns raised over increased use of Tasers by police nationally

PUBLISHED: 15:25 22 July 2014 | UPDATED: 15:25 22 July 2014

An officer demonstrating the use of a Taser. Photo PA

An officer demonstrating the use of a Taser. Photo PA

Concerns were today raised over the national increase in the use of Tasers by police.

Figures released in a report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) show the number of times Tasers have been used have more than doubled in five years from 725 in 2009 to 1,733 last year.

Staffordshire Constabulary has the highest percentage of uses with 33 per 100 officers.

However, Suffolk Constabulary and Essex Police have relatively low ratios with seven and five uses per 100 officers respectively.

In total Tasers were discharged in Suffolk on 84 occasions last year and 152 times in Essex.

The highest usage in terms of volume was 2,110 by the Metropolitan Police and 995 by West Midlands.

Suffolk and Essex police stressed they adhere to the guidance issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers in relation to the use of the weapons.

IPCC Commissioner Cindy Butts said: “The IPCC has always accepted that there are legitimate reasons for using Taser in policing and that it can be a valuable tool in assisting police officers to manage difficult and challenging situations.

“However, in light of the significant increase in Taser use, it is important to ensure that the device is being used appropriately and not as a default choice where other tactical options, including communication, could be effective.”

Superintendent Jon Dodman, of Suffolk Constabulary, said: “Taser is only carried by officers who are highly trained. Before deployment is considered an assessment is made based on the situation and the threat/risk presented. Taser is a very effective tool in resolving violent and threatening situations.

“It can be used to disarm and apprehend offenders and prevent them from hurting themselves or others. Often when someone is confronted with the possibility that a Taser may be used against them, they are compliant without it having to actually be discharged.

“Suffolk Police currently has around 150 officers who are Taser-trained.”

A spokesman for Essex Police said: “Taser is an important piece of equipment in the range of less lethal options. Since December 2008 it has been used by specially trained police officers in Essex to deal with potentially violent situations, while at the same time minimising harm to members of the public, police officers and offenders.

“In 2012 almost 70 per cent of Essex Police’s Taser incidents did not involve any discharge and just drawing it was enough to diffuse a situation. There are a total of 238 Essex Police officers trained to use Taser.”

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