IOPC Taser report flawed, says Federation chair


PUBLISHED 27 Aug 2021

IN News

A new report on the police use of Taser is flawed and does not paint the full picture, Cambridgeshire Police Federation chair Liz Groom has said.

Liz expressed disappointment that Federation members were not consulted over the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) report, which has been widely criticised.

Liz said the report focused on a tiny fraction of Taser use and, by not engaging with the Federation, it did not give an accurate view of how it is used by forces.

“This report examined just 101 incidents involving Taser over a five-year period when they were deployed almost 100,000 times during that time,” Liz said.

“It represents a tiny fraction of Taser use by forces over the past five years and does not paint a full picture of its use across England and Wales.

“Taser is an important piece of equipment which protects officers and the public. Officers are highly trained in its use and Taser can be a very effective means of dealing with many of the dangerous incidents our members deal with on a daily basis.

“Indeed, simply drawing a Taser can defuse a situation in a lot of cases. It’s disappointing the Federation was not consulted for the report.”

Ché Donald, national vice-chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales (PFEW), was also critical over the Federation being left out of the consultation process.

He said: “For many years, PFEW has fully supported the IOPC’s desire to seek improvements to national Taser guidance and training. Police officers are the practitioners of Taser and would ultimately be affected by these recommendations if implemented. We are naturally disappointed our 130,000 members were not consulted.”

Chief Constable Lucy D’Orsi, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for less lethal weapons, also weighed in with criticism of the review.

She said: “Unfortunately, this report by the IOPC is vague, lacks detail, does not have a substantive evidence base and regrettably ignores extensive pieces of work that are already well underway and, indeed, other areas where improvements could be made.

“I advised the IOPC of my concerns and am extremely disappointed that it did not engage with policing, attend a Taser training course or consult the national independent experts with whom we work whilst undertaking its initial research.”

In terms of the 101 Taser uses considered, she added: “Focusing on these smaller number of cases missed an opportunity to consider Taser use more broadly and, unfortunately, has resulted in recommendations which are mostly out of date and not based on the realities of policing. The focus on such a small data set ignores good practice and learning elsewhere.”

The report makes 17 recommendations to the College of Policing, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, and the Home Office seeking improvements to national guidance and training; scrutiny and monitoring of Taser use; and data and research.