No plans to introduce more powerful Taser model, say 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

Suffolk police have no immediate plans to introduce a new model of Taser which scientists warned could heighten risk of injury due to its more powerful output.

The government announced last week that trained officers could be equipped with the “more accurate, compact and faster” Taser 7.

The Home Office said it would improve public protection and reduce costs by using rechargeable batteries.

But independent advisors raised concerns over the new Taser, launched in November 2018, with earlier models of conducted energy device (CED) no longer in service or being phased out.

The government said any risks were carefully considered in line with rigorous testing, and that the Defence Science Technology Laboratory, which provides expert analysis on security procurement, had identified Taser 7 as the only device suitable for use – and currently in production – beyond the standard X26 Taser.

The Home Office said its improved effectiveness could lead to quicker resolution of incidents on the front line, preventing the need to use other force, which may result in more serious injury.

The announcement came after the Scientific Advisory Committee on the medical implications of less-lethal weapons (SACMILL) responded to a request from the Home Office for its opinion on the implications of the Taser system.

A report said that, if the neuromuscular incapacitation was more robust than the latest Taser X2, it may elevate risk of skull and bone injuries associated with uncontrolled falls, and may increase risk of musculoskeletal injury from muscle contraction.

The SACMILL said higher kinetic energy and momentum may also lead to elevated risk of internal injury, while increased probe dispersion presented a hazard to anyone down-range.

Suffolk police said it was already upgrading to the newer double-shot X2 unit and had no immediate plans to introduce Taser 7, adding: “We carefully consider the nature of the threat and the level of risk faced by officers in protecting themselves and others, and use this to determine the most appropriate equipment to be made available.

“The constabulary is currently undergoing an upgrade programme to replace X26 units with the newer X2 units. There are no plans to introduce the T7 Taser unit in the near future.

“We continually review the provision and use of such equipment, and wherever we move to utilise new kit, this would be subject to extensive risk assessment to consider all implications, including cost.”

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) said the new model had passed rigorous assessments and that procurement was a matter for individual forces based on strategic assessment.

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