More police officers to carry Tasers

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POLICE in Thames Valley will be given 200 more Tasers.

After consulting with officers police area commanders and the Police Federation, the Chief Constable’s management team has implemented a plan that will see more officers being selected, assessed and trained to be equipped with the devices.

This will see the number of Tasers in circulation increased from 4.8 per cent to 11 per cent – from 280 to 485.

The Force first issued Tasers to officers in 2004. Currently only firearms officers are permitted to carry and use them.

Assistant Chief Constable John Campbell, responsible for tactical support, said: “Over the past three years we have seen a rise in the number of incidents firearms officers with Tasers attend to provide support to unarmed colleagues.

“These are incidents where officers are faced with someone who is threatening violence or has the potential to cause significant harm to officers or members of the public, on many occasions the offender will be believed to be carrying weapons.

“Over the same three year period we have also experienced a rise in the number of assaults on officers and staff.

“This move will provide further protection to the communities and officers across Thames Valley.”

Chief Constable Sara Thornton said: “Officers will be specially selected and trained for this role and I am satisfied that the continued use of the Taser device across the Force area will only be considered in those cases where it is necessary and proportionate to the behaviour the officers encounter.”

Only 16 incidents – 1.7 per cent of total incidents – recorded by Thames Valley Police required a Taser to be fired in 2012.

Mr Campbell added that this decision would also bring Thames Valley Police in line with the majority of other forces across the country.

He said: “Until this decision was taken, Thames Valley Police was one of five forces in England and Wales that only permitted firearms officers to carry Tasers.

“By rolling it out to specially trained officers, it will bring the percentage of officers trained closer to the national average of 11.5 per cent across the remaining 38 forces.”

Chief Constable Thornton added: “As Chief Constable I have a responsibility to ensure that my officers are equipped to do the difficult job I ask of them. It is right that we have increased the availability of Tasers in line with other forces and we will keep our approach under review.”