Dorset PCC 'concerned' over taser use in Dorset

Dorset PCC 'concerned' over taser use in Dorset

Published by The Wessex FM News Team at 7:02am 28th September 2019.

Martyn Underhill says issuing tasers to more police officers could alter the relationships between officers and the public.

He said that he has concerns about arming more frontline staff with the stun gun devices. 

It is thought only around a hundred are currently trained and carry the device.

DORSET PCC TASER TRAINING

'Not all frontline staff want to carry a taser'

Mr Underhill told the police and crime panel that 20% of frontline staff said they don't want to carry a taser.

He said officers gave reasons such as fearing trial by newspaper, or over-zealous investigation by independent police investigators. 

He said there was also a concern among some police and crime commissioners that officers armed with taser were less keen to use their de-escalation techniques as an alternative to force.

Wessex FM observed Dorset police officers undergoing taser training in 2017

 

Policing by consent

Mr Underhill said:

"I am passionate about improving officer safety. However as the national lead for use of force, I must ensure that we balance officer safety with the proud tradition of policing by consent and that we consider the full range of options which are available."


While both he and the Chief Constable James Vaughan want more taser-trained officers that did not mean that all would routinely be armed with them.

Cost implication

It was highlighted that a similar sized force - Northamptonshire - had recently decided to issue a taser to every officer.

This operation will take 18 months and cost £220,000. 

In addition there would be training costs and the cost of cartridges.

Alternatives

The police and crime commissioner said that other options included:

  • more training in personal safety 
  • further training in unarmed defence tactics
  • reducing lone working 
  • the availability of dog units
Chairman of Police Federation of England and Wales says there needs to be a wider roll-out of Tasers.

Assessing effectiveness first

Martyn Underhill concluded that:

"Overall, whilst I am supportive of increasing the availability of Taser to officers, we must recognise the need to establish an evidence base for its effectiveness." 

He added that the public ought to be consulted before any decision to issue tasers to all front line Dorset staff - around 500 in total.

A further report is expected to be brought before the panel later in the year.

You can read more detail about taser training for Dorset Police and their 'use of force' policies here.

By Trevor Bevins, local democracy reporter