All police should be armed with Tasers, Police Federation chief says

The guns are supposed to be non-lethal but have killed a number of people in recent years

Jon Stone
Saturday 31 January 2015 10:48
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A policeman fires a Taser gun.
A policeman fires a Taser gun.

All police officers should be armed with Taser stun guns in light of the heightened security threat, according to the head of the body that represents front-line police officers.

Steve White, the chair of the Police Federation, said police needed to be protected from terrorist attack, which he said could happen anywhere.

“The terrorist ideal to get attention no longer relies on an attack being in a place of note. It could be in Cheam High Street, in any town, in any part of the UK. We know there are more dangerous people out there, preparing to attack police officers and we need to be able to respond to that threat,” he told The Guardian.

“As [the Lee Rigby murder] demonstrated, you don't need to have a gun to create terrorism. It is a defensive tool and a tactical option. We have a largely unarmed service and the service wants that to remain.”

He added that the alternative to arming police with Tasers was to “have officers out there without anything at all”.

The Police Federation has not yet officially adopted the policy and its delegates are set to vote on the proposal next month.

Taser is the brand name for an line of electric shock weapons sold by Taser International.

The weapons work by firing two tethered darts into a person's body, which act as electrodes. An electric current is then delivered to the body, causing significant pain and involuntary muscle contractions.

According to official figures released by the Home Office in October last year, the user of Tasers has increased by police every year.

There have also been a number of controversial deaths caused by the weapons, which are intended to be non-lethal.

Police fired Tasers 826 times out of the 5,107 occasions they were deployed between January and June 2014.

They were fired 4,999 times during the same period in 2013 and 1,297 times during the same period in 2009.

Tasers were used in the manner of a ‘cattle prod’ and pressed against a subject’s body on 123 occasions in England and Wales during the same period in 2014. This is referred to by police as an “angled drive stun”.

At least eight people have been killed by tasers in the UK over the last decade, including one man as recently as last month.

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