A statement from the PCC on the Taser uplift announcement
Last week it was announced that the Force will be increasing the number of officers trained to carry a Taser to 250 over a two year period. I fully support this operational decision.
In my last blog, I informed the public that the Chief Constable and I were examining the option and cost of offering Taser to more frontline officers who want to carry this equipment and successfully pass the training. Two key factors led us to reconsider whether our current provision is sufficient.
Firstly, we must identify and manage threat, risk and harm to public safety. In recent months, the context within which the police service operates has changed radically.
With current resourcing levels, most rural forces across the UK would struggle to respond as quickly and as fully as the Metropolitan Police and Greater Manchester Police have to recent terrorist incidents. The totality of policing needs more resources to build a safer and more secure future, but until such a time, we must continue to equip our officers proportionately to meet current and emerging threats.
Beyond the terrorism landscape, in 2016/17, we have seen a 49.6% increase in reported knife crimes compared to 2015/16 in Dorset. We’ve seen a 63% increase in stabbings, up from 77 to 126 crimes in 2016/17. This trend is mirrored nationally and while overall numbers remain relatively low locally, with around 29 knife crimes being recorded monthly, police must be better equipped to deal with crimes involving bladed weapons. Taser is a fantastic tool to have in the police arsenal and we must be able to deploy it quickly where necessary to protect the public.
Secondly, the Taser uplift is also designed to protect officers. Wayne Marques, the British Transport Police officer who attempted to tackle the three knife wielding terrorists on London Bridge while equipped only with a baton, is a key case in point.
Taser uses an electrical current which temporarily interferes with the body’s nerve and muscle system. Importantly, it allows officers to deal with violent or potentially violent people at a distance. Taser is usually held in a holster on an officer’s belt or vest. It is designed to stand out, being yellow and black, allowing the officer to deter the suspected offender from any continuation or escalation of their behaviour. The sight of a Taser alone, even without it being deployed, can help an officer to bring an incident to a safe conclusion for themselves and the public.
It is my job to scrutinise how Dorset officers use force in carrying out their duties. Officers’ response should always involve using the minimum level of force necessary to protect local people, but it is vital that officers are adequately equipped to effectively deal with such violent threats.
I will shortly be carrying out consultation with residents. I’m always interested in hearing your views on the areas of policing that I am elected to scrutinise on your behalf.