A less lethal weapon? As Taser use is rolled out across London, the public has much to fear

If we look abroad, the link between taser use and fatal injury has already been found

Related Topics

Should the police have more Tasers in London? It’s an important question to ask, especially of those who may be subjected to their use. The arguments for more Tasers would be that Tasers are a less lethal option compared to a firearm. The arguments against their increased availability is that they would be seen to arm the police by stealth and have the potential to cause seriously injury.

So why were Londoners not consulted before the Commissioner embarked on his ‘Taser Roll-Out Programme’? That was one of the questions put to both the Commissioner and the Deputy Mayor of London as they gave evidence to the Police and Crime Committee’s Taser Working Group in June. Today, the Committee publishes their fundings, ‘Arming the Met, the deployment of less lethal weapons in London’. The report criticises not only the ambiguity over the decision-making process but the lack of data transparency and information given to the public.

But will these criticisms be enough to halt ‘Total Tasering’? It’s no secret that the Commissioner will continue with his ‘Total Policing’ agenda, especially as there does not seem to be any resistance from the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime, the policing body elected to hold the Commissioner to account. If the Mayor continues to sell the pass ‘Total Tasering’ will become a reality and will lead to policing the Capital by force.

The consequence of that will be that more people will be Tasered. There is already a growing number of individuals who have suffered injuries as a result of the Taser not just in London, but across the country. Last October, Colin Farmer, a blind man from Chorley was Tasered in the back as he made his way down a side street. And James McCarthy, a man from Liverpool, was Tasered in September 2012 and subsequently suffered a cardiac arrest, has last month issued a claim for damages for breach of his human rights under Article 2 and 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights. These are just a few examples of the innocent people being caught in the cross fire of this gun. 

To date there has been no direct link to a Taser-related death in Britain. However, in 2006, Brian Loan, a 47-year-old man from Sacriston, County Durham died three days after being Tasered in the back. The Coroner’s verdict at the time did not find a connection but, the Coroner did add that “It may be in five or ten years time somebody may find a link”.

If we look to America, Canada and Australia, the link has already been found. The militarisation of their police forces is likely to be one of the contributory factors which has led to the ready use of Tasers. It could also be due to the misconception that the Taser is non-lethal. The Commissioner also seems to hold a similar misconception about Tasers, as he considers them to be a ‘tool’ rather than a ‘weapon’. The Taser is a firearm: its use is controlled under section 5 of Firearms Act 1968 and should only be used when there is a life threatening incident. If the Taser is used outside such circumstances then its use could be deemed excessive and disproportionate – and challengeable by law.

If the Commissioner is thinking of extending Taser availability for his officers in the future then I would encourage him to consult the public he has been appointed to police before taking any further step.

React Now

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst Consultant (Financial Services)

£60000 - £75000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Consultant (Fina...

Systems Administrator - Linux / Unix / Windows / TCP/IP / SAN

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A leading provider in investment managemen...

AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer

£600 - £700 per day: Harrington Starr: AVS, JVS Openlink Endur Developer JVS, ...

E-Commerce Developer

£45000 - £60000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Exciting opp...

Day In a Page

Read Next

Letter from the Political Editor: Phone and data laws to be passed in haste

Andrew Grice
The first lesson of today is... don't treat women unequally?  

Yvette Cooper is right: The classroom is the best place to start teaching men about feminism

Chris Maume
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice
Hollywood targets Asian audiences as US films enjoy record-breaking run at Chinese box office

Hollywood targets Asian audiences

The world's second biggest movie market is fast becoming the Hollywood studios' most crucial