It’s essential police officers are given the best training, the best equipment and the support they need to do their job with access to Taser being part of that, the national Federation chair has argued in a blog posted after new Home Office figures showed use of the device is at a record high.
John Apter also points out that 85 per cent of the time officers draw Taser they do not actually fire the device.
“The figures released recently do show an increase in the use of Taser. This is not surprising. Firstly, there are far more officers trained and authorised to carry Taser and, secondly, let’s not ignore the fact that we live in an increasingly more violent society where assaults on police officers are increasing year on year. But it’s important to understand what a ‘use’ means as far as the figures are concerned,” he explains.
“Every time an officer takes a Taser from its holster, the red dot is aimed, the device is arced or indeed fired then this is classed as a use. In reality, of the 23,500 incidents over the past 12 months where a Taser was ‘used’, it was actually fired on only 2,500 occasions. That means 85 per cent of the time the officer did not feel the need to fire the device. This demonstrates an incredible level of restraint and professionalism from my colleagues who have to make split second decisions on what level of force to use.
“Taser will probably always be targeted in the news or by various campaign groups one way or another. But my stance will always remain the same and I will continue to champion its wider roll-out and support our members who want to carry it. Taser has proven itself time and time again, it’s saved lives and it’s prevented a higher level of force having to be used.”
John, who says he accepts that any police use of force must be subject to scrutiny, points out policing in the UK is the most scrutinised and accountable in the world.
However, he also states: “There also needs to be an understanding of the reality we face on a daily basis. Many of those who criticise my colleagues who use any level of force do so from the comfort of their armchair or with the benefit of hindsight. They have no grasp of reality, they generally offer no alternative other than to have a chat with a violent offender, to talk them down from their violent attack. I’m afraid that doesn’t work in the real world. We have to deal with reality and sometimes that reality is not pretty!”
The Home Secretary has announced £10 million of extra funding to allow Taser to be issued to more officers but the Federation still wants to see more investment in the devices and officer safety generally.