Taser use up almost two thirds by Suffolk police

A police officer demonstrating a Taser gun Picture: DANNY LAWSON/PA WIRE

A police officer demonstrating a Taser gun Picture: DANNY LAWSON/PA WIRE - Credit: PA

Suffolk Constabulary has said its officers follow strict rules around Tasers after figures showed use of the electroshock weapons rose by almost two thirds in a year.

Conducted energy devices, also known as Tasers, were unholstered by Suffolk police officers on 362 occasions in the year ending March 2020, compared to 221 in 2018/19 and 248 in 2017/18.

The force said each officer was required to assess the threat or risk presented in a given situation before choosing to deploy a Taser.

Although Tasers were discharged on just 32 occasions in 12 months, it compared to just 12 occasions the previous year and 13 in 2017/18.

Meanwhile, Taser use also increase across England and Wales by 37% - from 23,451 to 32,058 occasions in a year - but like in Suffolk, in most cases (86%), the devices were not discharged.

Earlier this year, the Independent Office for Police Conduct called for “greater scrutiny” of the use of Tasers after a series of incidents and concerns about the disproportionate use of the weapon against black people and those with mental health problems.

It came after the Home Office said it would spend £6.5 million on 8,000 more non-lethal weapons for police.

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A report accompanying the latest Home Office statistics said the recent rise in use may reflect an increase in recent years of the number of Tasers and Taser-trained officers, a rise in incidents with the potential for conflict, and an increase in registering Taser use due to improved and simpler methods of recording.

A Suffolk police spokesman said: “Taser is only carried by officers who are highly trained and who receive refresher training at regular intervals.

“Before deployment is considered, an assessment is made based on the situation and the threat or risk presented.

"Taser is a very effective tool in resolving violent and threatening situations. In many cases, its use can be more appropriate than conventional firearms in resolving dangerous situations safely and without injury to any person.

“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 adheres to strict guidance issued by the National Police Chief Council in relation to training of staff and policy surrounding the use of Taser and firearms.”

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