EVERY frontline police officer in Northamptonshire is to be armed with a Taser gun, the East Midlands county’s Chief Constable Nick Adderley announced yesterday.
Adderley said the weapons would be issued to all officers who want one.
According to a Parliamentary briefing, there were 1,044 frontline officers in the Northamptonshire Police Force as of March this year.
Adderley said it would take 18 months to train and equip the officers and would cost about £220,000.
He said: ‘It is my submission Tasers will be standard issue equipment in three years, but I am not prepared to wait, so I have pressed the button now.
‘I went to see the Police and Fire Crime Commissioner yesterday and he was fully supportive.
‘There are people out there who are prepared to seriously injure, or worse.
‘We haven’t moved with the times and we have to move with the times to combat the threat we are facing daily from those who simply have no respect for law and order.
‘I wouldn’t be doing my job if I sat here and didn’t take the steps necessary to give my officers equipment that could save their lives and the lives of the public we serve.’
A recent Police Federation survey found 94 per cent of officers said Tasers should be issued to more frontline officers.
Home Office figures show the ‘conducted energy devices’ were used in 17,100 incidents in the year to March 2018, up from 11,300 the year before.
A spokesman for civil rights organisation, Liberty, said: ‘Tasers can and do kill. We’ve seen too many examples of inappropriate and discriminatory use.
‘Police should be focussing on robust training and much tighter regulation – not rolling these lethal weapons out in the hope they terrify people into compliance.’
Oliver Feeley-Sprague, Amnesty UK’s Police and Security Programme Director, said: ‘We’ve got serious concerns about the use of Tasers becoming the norm for day-to-day policing.
‘Coroners have pointed to the use of a Taser as a key factor in the deaths of two people in the UK, but it’s likely Taser use was a factor in many more deaths.
‘The Taser is a potentially lethal weapon and should be treated accordingly. We’re particularly concerned at the alarming rise in over-use against vulnerable and minority groups, including on people with mental health issues and BAME (black and minority ethnic) people.
‘The British public should resist the drum-beat of calls for every police officer to carry a Taser. More Tasers would inevitably mean more mistakes, more misuse and more tragedy.’