AN independent report by Safer Neighbourhood Panels has rated the use of Taser by police in Lichfield and Tamworth as ‘good’.
Panel members in Lichfield and Tamworth received training on how and why Taser is used by police officers. This enabled them to examine records of local Taser use, including footage recorded on police body worn video, to make sure it is being used appropriately.
The scrutiny follows a comprehensive examination of the way police use Taser in Staffordshire by the over-arching, county-wide independent Ethics, Transparency and Audit Panel (ETAP). This resulted in nine clear recommendations from ETAP to improve the recording of Taser use and provide more rigorous checks.
The Safer Neighbourhood Panels were launched by Staffordshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Matthew Ellis, to shine the spotlight on local policing and make Staffordshire’s police service the most open and transparent in the UK.
The panels examine, challenge and influence the work of police at a local level and hold Local Policing Team commanders to account, as well as looking at wider criminal justice and community safety issues in their area.
Mr Ellis said:
‘I welcome the latest findings by the Lichfield and Tamworth Safer Neighbourhood Panels into the use of Taser by Staffordshire Police. Their report demonstrates the importance of Safer Neighbourhood Panels and my aim continues to be to make policing in Staffordshire the most open and transparent in the country.
‘Public confidence in policing is a priority and this extra layer of scrutiny from Safer Neighbourhood Panels ensures transparency at the most local level.’
John Mitchell of Tamworth SNP said:
‘The police have demonstrated good Taser use, recording and record keeping within the Lichfield, Burntwood and Tamworth areas.
‘The Tamworth Police Team Commanders are only too willing to make their work transparent, and you are also given the opportunity to ask questions on any aspect of their work.’
Chief Inspector Jason Nadin, Tamworth Local Police Commander, added:
‘I am a firm supporter of the Safer Neighbourhood panel and I am working hard with the Tamworth Panel to increase their knowledge and understanding of Policing in the Town.
‘I see this report and the methods used to gather the data as important in supporting the transparency, reassurance, education and legitimacy with the community.’
A Taser or conducted electrical weapon (CEW) is an electroshock weapon sold by Taser International. It fires two small dart-like electrodes, which stay connected to the main unit by conductors, to deliver electric current to disrupt voluntary control of muscles causing “neuromuscular incapacitation”.
Someone struck by a Taser experiences extreme pain and over-stimulation of sensory nerves and motor nerves, resulting in strong involuntary muscle contractions. Tasers will incapacitate, not just cause pain compliance.
Tasers are considered “prohibited weapons” under the Firearms Act 1968 and possession is an offence. The maximum sentence for possession is ten years in prison and an unlimited fine. There is a minimum sentence of 5 years imprisonment if the taser is disguised as another object such as a torch or a mobile phone.
Taser guns are now used by some British police as a “less lethal” weapon. It was also announced in July 2007, that the deployment of Taser by specially trained police units who are not firearms officers, but who are facing similar threats of violence, would be trialled in ten police forces. The 12-month trial commenced on 1 September 2007, and took place in the following forces: Avon & Somerset, Devon & Cornwall, Gwent, Lincolnshire, Merseyside, Metropolitan Police, Northamptonshire, Northumbria, North Wales and West Yorkshire.
Following the completion of the trial, the Home Secretary agreed on 24 November 2008 to allow chief police officers of all forces in England and Wales, from 1 December 2008, to extend Taser use to specially trained units in accordance with current Association of Chief Police Officers policy and guidance, which states that Taser can be used only where officers would be facing violence or threats of violence of such severity that they would need to use force to protect the public, themselves, and/or the subject(s).