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APCO Welcomes the Extended Use of Tasers

Police have welcomed a Home Office announcement today authorising the extended use of the Taser device to Police Forces across the country.

Following a detailed evaluation of a 12-month operational trial of the Taser, which was carried out by five Police Forces, the Home Secretary David Blunkett has agreed that firearms officers in forces nationwide can now use the hand-held electrical weapon.

The M26 Advanced Taser is a single shot device designed to incapacitate the subject through the use of an electrical current, rather than lethally injure. The parameters of the trial allowed the Taser to be used by trained specialist firearms officers in circumstances where they are authorised to draw weapons and those conditions will continue now with its extended use countrywide.

During the year-long trial which ended in April 2004, the Taser was deployed alongside conventional firearms in a total of 60 situations where people were either armed or thought to pose such a threat that the use of a firearm by a police officer may have been necessary.

One of the most striking findings of the trial was the deterrent effect of the weapon - although it was deployed in 60 incidents and aimed in 40 of these incidents, it was only actually fired 13 times during the year: in the majority of cases its presence alone was sufficient to make the person who had posed a threat comply with police demands and allow the event to be brought to a peaceful conclusion.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) worked closely with the Home Office and the Police Complaints Authority on the trial and broadly welcomes today's announcement.

Michael Tonge, Chief Constable of Gwent Police and spokesperson for ACPO Conflict Management portfolio, said: "We welcome the extension of Taser, allowing it to be used by firearms officers in all forces across the country.

"We are constantly seeking less lethal options to resolve dangerous situations safely and without injury to any person, and the Taser provides officers with another tool whose use may be more appropriate than a conventional firearm in certain circumstances. It is important to stress, however, that Taser cannot be a replacement for firearms and where officers face a threat from firearms they will meet that threat with firearms.

"Taser reduces the risk to officers called to deal with a violent offender because it can be fired from a distance. It is also a strategic option in helping to resolve incidents before the risk of harm is heightened.

"Ultimately it can only further improve public safety."

The five forces that took part in the trial were: Lincolnshire Police; the Metropolitan Police; Northamptonshire Police; North Wales Police and Thames Valley Police.

All officers who used Taser during the trial completed a questionnaire following every deployment and this, together with a public opinion survey, assisted Pricewaterhouse Coopers with their independent evaluation of the trial on behalf of ACPO.

The evaluation looked how successfully Taser was used as a supplementary option to other deployment methods, including firearms, dogs, baton rounds and irritant spray. It concluded the Taser has a number of benefits, both operationally for police officers and in terms of enhanced public safety.

In a public opinion survey carried out following the trial, where 1,164 people were interviewed, 90 per cent of respondents thought that firearms officers and specially-trained officers should be allowed to use Taser.

The Taser technology has been tested by the Police Scientific Development Branch and a medical assessment has been carried out by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.

About APCO
The ACPO Press Office can be contacted via 020 7227 3406/3425 (office hours) or via 07803 903686 (out of office hours). Further information including copies of recent news releases can also be found on website http://www.acpo.police.uk.

Through a series of committees and working groups ACPO members, often in consultation with other groups, develop policy and guidance for the police service. The Association aims to assist chief officers in providing excellence in leadership of the service; to ensure a professional and ethical service is delivered to all communities; and to provide professional advice to Government, Police Authorities, other organisations and individuals with an interest in policing issues.

ACPO's 292 members are; police officers of Assistant Chief Constable rank (Commanders in the Metropolitan Police and City of London Police) and above, and senior non-police managers, in the 44 forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, plus national agencies such as NCIS and the National Crime Squad, and other forces such as British Transport Police and States of Jersey Police.

For more information on TASER less-lethal weapons, please call 480-991-0797 or visit our website at www.TASER.com.

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