THE NEW Police and Crime Commissioner for West Mercia Police has said he does not think all frontline officers in the force should be armed with Tasers.
The comments from John Campion come after statements made at the Police Federation’s annual conference where John Apter, the chair of Hampshire Police Federation, spoke out for a national roll-out of the stun guns.
He said it was wrong to accept police assaults as just being part of the job and the move would go a long way in reducing the amount of attacks on officers.
“Policing is dangerous and unpredictable, but if you say being assaulted is part of the job then that makes it right, and it is not right.
“It’s a disgrace to say Taser shouldn’t be rolled out further.
“It is an essential piece of kit. I accept it’s expensive, but what’s the cost of the safety of officers?”
He also called for officer safety training to be standardised across all 43 forces in England and Wales and said he would raise the matter with the College of Policing.
“It isn’t right that there isn’t a standard. It isn’t good enough. If we get it right, we can look after our people.”
Mr Apter also questioned figures showing around 23,000 officers were assaulted each year as he added, in his force, only 25 per cent of officers recorded their assaults.
But Mr Campion said: “The police need the capability to provide the right response to every specific incident. To do that, they have a wide range of resources and highly-trained officers – that includes Tasers, and officers trained to use them. It is necessary that the force has that capacity, and can draw on that resource when it is appropriate.
“However, rolling out tasers to any and every officer wanting one would challenge the important principle of policing by consent in this country.
“On that basis, it isn’t a proposal I support.”
West Mercia and Warwickshire Police currently has 461 Taser traned officers who respond to incidents across the force area.
Supt Daryn Elton said: “We are considering, in line with national discussions, whether there are operational reasons to increase that number but at the present time no decision has been made.”
“The national agreement is that the current threat and risk picture in the UK does not justify a roll out to all officers who volunteer at this time and any increase in the future would be in line with current best practice.
“Issuing Tasers to officers and the deployment of armed officers is always carried out under rigorous national standards of training, supervision and command.”