Taser usage must be based on threat not age of offender

Police on Parade 2007 - by Chris Eason via Flickr
This article was originally published on this website

08 August 2017

Police man holding taser

The decision to use Taser will always be based on the threat, not the age of the offender. That was the message from Steve White, Chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, who appeared on BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show to discuss a rise in the use of Tasers on children.

The figures were revealed following a Freedom of Information request by BBC Radio Kent, showing a  rise in the use of Tasers on under 18s from 307 times in 2014 to 448 in 2016.

Mr White said: “Age can be difficult to assess and when faced with a significantly dangerous situation the officers choice to use a Taser will always be based on how best to manage the immediate threat.”

Oliver Feeley-Sprague from Amnesty International who also appeared on the programme said “their use must be carefully controlled”. He outlined a “mis-match on government advice and guidelines for use of Taser which needs addressing”.

Figures released by the Government showed 80% of X26 Taser uses were not discharged and the red dot made up more than half of all Taser usage. Mr White said: “As the figures show, just showing a Taser often deescalates the situation. It is a contentious issue which has been widely debated but in a world where officer numbers are reducing and threats to our nation is rising – the use of Tasers have become a useful and effective piece of kit in protecting the general public”.

In a survey, carried out by the Police Federation of England and Wales at the turn of the year, 82% of federated officers who responded said Taser should be issued to more frontline officers, up 8% since 2014. The results came a after a public survey showed 71% of those taking part considered it acceptable for police officers to carry Taser when on patrol.

In a statement following today’s live discussion a spokesman for the Home Office stated: “Conductive Energy Devices (CEDs) are an important tactical option for specially trained police officers – particularly in potentially violent situations where other tactics have been considered or failed.”

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