As part of the ongoing investigations into the terrorist incident in Manchester on Monday night, the Prime Minister has announced that the independent Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre (JTAC) have raised the UK threat level from ‘severe’ to ‘critical’. As a result of this decision Operation Temperer will now be activated, alongside other established and tested plans, meaning that military personnel may now be deployed onto the streets under police command and control.
Taser numbers increase in bid to protect communities and officers
The Home Office recently announced the authorisation of the Taser X2 as the conductive energy device model for use in the UK.
In responding to this decision, officers from Devon and Cornwall Police have confirmed that in line with this authorisation they will have converted to this new model within the next 18 months.
Ops Commander for Devon and Cornwall Police & Dorset Police, Chief Superintendent Jim Nye said: “With ever evolving demands on policing, our officers must have the right equipment to keep both communities and themselves safe, and the next generation Taser X2 is considered the safest conductive energy device model for both the officer and the subject.”
“Alongside this conversion, Devon and Cornwall Police intends to increase the number of officers trained to carry Taser from the current 550, to up to 1,200 by September 2019. This represents around 85% of the regular, uniformed front line officers (excluding PCSOs & Special Constables); about 41% of total officer strength.
“Figures from 2016 show that Devon and Cornwall Police dealt with 21 incidents involving knives every day. Equipping officers with a Taser helps to ensure that not only is the safety of the community maximised; incidents are dealt with promptly but also serves to ensure more of our officers are better protected. In rural and more isolated areas where there is threat of harm and risk to life of the public, back up to responding police officers may not be close by. Increasing the number of officers carrying a Taser is considered as a way of better protecting communities.
“It is also hoped the move will reduce the increasing number of assaults on police officers. During 2016, 492 police officers were assaulted in Devon and Cornwall, four receiving serious injury.”
The announcement to increase the number of officers who will carry a Taser comes after a two-year review. This included the results of a public consultation, which was launched in April 2016 and consisted of six public meetings, numerous focus groups, media debates and 1,196 questionnaires which were completed by the public. The outcome of which showed that 88% of respondents agreed that more officers should carry a Taser.
Ch. Superintendent Jim Nye added: “Devon and Cornwall Police maintain and enforce high standards of officers carrying a Taser. Experienced officers are carefully selected to carry a Taser and have to undertake a rigorous pass or fail course.
“Statistics show that out of the 1.6 million incidents attended by Devon and Cornwall Police during 2011 and 2016, officers drew Tasers on 1,675 occasions, which equates to 0.1%. However, officers only discharged Taser on 476 occasions (0.02% of all incidents).
“As you can see from the statistics, the chances of officers using a Taser are very small. What we do believe is that those wanting to cause harm through the use of weapons can be more effectively and safely dealt with if an officer has a Taser.”
Dorset Police is currently reviewing the number of Taser carrying officers in the Force.
It has consulted with communities across Dorset to provide useful feedback on possible plans to implement an increase.
There are currently 83 Taser trained (non-firearms) officers in the Force, but under new plans, this could increase to around 250. No decisions have been made at this time.
The Force will take in to account public responses when it makes recommendations to the Chief Constable later in 2017.