Taser

Taser is the brand name of the Home Office approved ‘Conducted Energy Device” that is used by the Police in the UK. It was introduced into the UK in 2003 and has been carried in Lancashire by specially trained officers since 2009.

Whilst the firing of a Taser is rare in the county, we feel it’s important to give you an idea about what it means for policing and protecting the public in Lancashire and the intensive training our officers undertake before using it.

What is a Taser?

Taser on a desk

A Taser is a bright yellow hand held device which is electronically controlled. It is only used by highly trained officers to deal with violent people at a distance and is designed to temporarily incapacitate a suspect through the use of an electrical current. Extensive medical and scientific tests were carried out on the device before its use was approved by the Home Office.

Taser is usually held in a holster on an officer's body armour but can be carried in other positions along with other officer safety equipment. It’s clearly visible, designed to stand out and be easily identified as a Taser.

We have clear operating procedures on the use of Taser and a team of officers who continually review what we do and how we do it. This ensures that it is used correctly to protect both the public and the police.

Taser provides an additional option to resolve situations such as violent behaviour. In certain circumstances, the use of Taser is more appropriate than other use of force options in resolving dangerous situations safely and with less risk of serious injury. Officers who are trained and equipped with Taser must decide on the most reasonable and necessary use of force in the circumstances. The level of force used must be proportionate and officers are individually accountable in law for the amount of force they use.

There are a range of other measures which can be used as alternatives to Taser such as physical restraint, batons and PAVA spray. Much will depend upon the circumstances, but Taser will often be the safest way to resolve a situation. In the majority of cases involving Taser, the mere threat of its use has been enough to defuse a situation and ensure a peaceful resolution.

For further information and some FAQs about Taser please see NPCC - Taser.

Training

All of our officers selected to use Taser must pass an intensive four day training course before becoming qualified Taser operators. Once qualified, officers must complete an annual one day refresher course along with personal safety and first aid training.

The course, which follows national standards and guidelines, includes a number of detailed assessments on decision making, scenario based incidents, the use of force, dealing with vulnerable people and medical implications.

Training doesn't just focus on the Taser itself - it helps officers to fine tune existing skills and teaches them the importance of communication, justification and other procedures such as first aid.

The course combines practical scenarios with classroom based learning and continuous assessment. The scenarios aim to test the officer's decision making and use of relevant legislation around the use of force. Officers are also tested in recognising medical emergencies and any adverse reactions.

Officers must account for each time they remove a Taser from the holster. This justification is checked by a number of levels of supervision. All Taser deployments are recorded and submitted to the Home Office and are subject to a variety of levels of scrutiny from within Lancashire Constabulary.

Taser statistics

All uses of Taser are reported to the Home office in great detail. In the interests of openness and transparency, we also publish annual statistics of Taser use.

The below table shows how often Taser has been used within Lancashire from 1st January to the 31st December for each calendar year. The data for 2017 shows Taser use from 1st January 2017 to 31st March 2017.

 

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

Drawn

5

26

17

29

38

37

Aim

1

7

10

16

NR

NR

Arc

0

0

2

2

2

5

Red Dot

40

82

84

76

116

119

Drive Stun

0

0

2

3

2

4

Fired

13

36

33

44

59

54

Total

59

151

148

170

217

219

 

When an officer considers there to be an imminent use or threat of violence they can consider using Taser in a number of ways.

  • Drawn - when a Taser is removed from its holster by the officer where there is justification in law to do so
  • Aim – when a Taser is aimed at a suspect due to the circumstances and their behaviour. This may act as a deterrent or it may lead on to Taser being discharged
  • Arc/arcing – to deter a suspect, an officer may squeeze the trigger without the cartridge attached so the electric current flows between the two contacts at the end of the Taser. Electricity crackling can be seen and heard 
  • Red dot – The Taser has a laser which allows the officer to mark the suspect with a red dot. This lets the officer know they are on target whilst warning the suspect they have been targeted
  • Drive stun – Following Taser being discharged there may be circumstances where it has not been fully effective. The officer will place the end of the Taser onto the suspect approximately nine inches away from the nearest probe to bring them under control.
  • Fire – an officer pulls the trigger firing two probes which are attached by copper wire to the device. When the probes attach to a person an electric circuit is completed which temporarily incapacitates a suspect.

 

 


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