The College of Policing is reviewing its policy on Colour Vision Deficiency (CVD) tests which could allow more officers to have Taser.
The move has been welcomed by Cambridgeshire Police Federation chair Liz Groom who says the current tests do not allow officers to undergo tests that would assess their individual circumstances.
“The existing policy means there is almost a blanket ban on officers with CVD having access to Taser but the Federation is arguing that the College of Policing test is not ‘fair, valid or reliable’. The college has now said, however, that it is considering allowing these officers to take a functional test instead which seems a much fairer approach,” says Liz.
One in 12 men and one in 200 women are affected by CVD.
Steve Hartshorn, the Police Federation’s national firearms and Taser lead, has been pushing for the change to the college’s policy.
“Police officers with CVD are just as vulnerable to acts of violence against them as any other,” he said, “There is a genuine need to remove the requirement for a CVD test for what many see as essential police equipment. If they are in the job, they should be allowed to perform the full range of policing duties open to everyone.”
The Federation is working with a St Alban’s based optician which is the sole UK distributor for EnChroma lenses. These are proving ‘transformative’ for some officers with CVD although their enhancing capabilities vary from person to person. Current CVD testing does not allow colour correcting lenses to be used.
The review comes as forces undertake a wider roll-out of Taser since only 20 per cent of officers nationwide are currently trained to use the devices.
The Federation’s national vice-chair, Ché Donald, has led calls for more officers to be trained and equipped with Taser.
“It will save lives or prevent officers receiving life changing injuries – in over 90 per cent of encounters where Taser is introduced it results in de-escalation – so the red dot alone diffuses 90 per cent of violent incidents. Our survey data shows that 76 per cent of officers are ‘always or almost always single crewed’ and we also know there is a significant increase in assaults against police officers, so we need to ensure they are properly equipped to do their job effectively. Taser is part of that regardless of whether you have CVD,” he said.