Police fire just once in every 20 recorded uses of Taser across Suffolk

Taser trained police reached for their weapons almost twice as many times in the last year as 2015 – but pulled the trigger on almost half as many occasions.

Home Office figures showed police used conducted energy devices (CEDs) 248 times across Suffolk in 2017/18, compared to 137 times in 2015 and 154 times in 2016.

Although increasingly unholstered, the stun guns were discharged with declining frequency over the last three years – from 23 in 2015 to 13 in 2017/18.

Officers went as far as drawing 62 times without firing, aiming 13 times without firing, marking the suspect with a red dot 89 times, and ‘arcing’ the electric current three times without firing.

Suffolk officers drew their Taser on more occasions than any other force in the East of England apart from Norfolk (98 times), but fired on fewer occasions than any other.

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The constabulary said it was in dialogue with the Home Office to verify a disputed figure of 68 occasions when the outcome of Taser use was marked ‘not stated’.

CEDs were introduced for firearms officers in 2003 and extended to specially trained officers four years later.

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A force spokesman said officers receive regular refresher training and make an assessment based on the situation, threat or risk before considering Taser deployment.

“Taser is a very effective tool in resolving violent and threatening situations,” they added.

“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 a Taser may be used against them, they are compliant without it having to actually be discharged.

“Suffolk police adhere to strict guidance issued by the National Police Chief Council (NPCC) in relation to training of staff and policy surrounding the use of Taser and firearms.”

The recording of CED used was a requirement prior to 2017, when the NPCC also requested data to be recorded on use of force.

Data collected from 43 forces showed Suffolk officers used force on 2,664 occasions in the year ending March 31, 2018 – the fewest of any force in the region.

Use of force usually includes handcuffing, ‘unarmed skills’ and ground restraint, but also includes the use of irritant spray, batons, dogs, spit guards and shields.

The main reasons for use of force are to protect the officer, effect arrest, protect the subject and prevent escape.

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