'Give all officers Tasers to combat terror threat’ – UK Police Federation
The Federation, which represents 125,000 officers of varying ranks, voted in favor of a policy to introduce the controversial weapon more widely across the force.
Steve White, who chairs the federation, said police officers needed Tasers to resist potential terror attacks.
Critics have called the move a “mistake,” however, with Amnesty International asking whether terrorists would actually be deterred from committing acts of violence against police simply because they are armed with Tasers.
Home Office officials and chief constables will now face pressure from the federation to allow the weapons to be carried as routine.
White said: “We have long called for a wider rollout of Taser.”
“This is a step in the right direction and we will now work with the Association of Chief Police Officers, individual chief officers, the Superintendents’ Association and the Home Office to progress this as a matter of urgency.
“Now the time is right for all operational police officers to have the option to carry Tasers which I believe will provide greater public reassurance,” he added.
Not all members of the public will be reassured, however.
Since Tasers were first introduced in England and Wales in 2008, there have been a number of high-profile cases where officers have deployed the weapons against innocent suspects, some of whom were elderly or disabled.
Lancashire police caused outrage when one of their officers shocked a blind pensioner in the back with a 50,000-volt Taser in October 2012.
The officer said he thought Colin Farmer, 61 at the time, was carrying a samurai sword. He was actually using a white cane.
In another case, Shocket Aslam was reportedly Tasered after leaving a petrol station without paying for a £20 tank of gas.
Aslam, who is dependent on a wheelchair for mobility, was pulled over by an officer before being Tasered and dragged from his vehicle. He insists he informed police he was disabled and unable to exit the car, according to The Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol).
In 2013, Jordan Begley of Manchester died after police used a Taser against him. The 23-year-old factory worker is believed to have had a heart condition and suffered a “medical episode” after police confronted him while responding to reports of a disturbance.
Police use of Tasers against epileptics has become such a serious concern that a charity produced a video to educate officers about the condition. The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) is looking to include the video in their training for personnel authorized to use Tasers.
An Epilepsy Action spokesperson told RT: “During a seizure, and for a period of time afterwards, the person may not be fully aware of their surroundings or what is happening, and they may be confused.”
“Police officers should be trained to recognize seizures to avoid mistaking them for violent or antisocial behavior,” the NGO said.
Oliver Sprague, Amnesty International UK’s arms program director, asked what use a Taser would be in the face of terrorist activity.
“We’d ask the question: where’s the evidence that a terrorist will be deterred by the knowledge that police officers have Tasers at their disposal?”
“And who on earth thinks that, if there’s a real instance of terrorist activity, Tasers would ever actually be sufficient for our law enforcement officers?”
Taser guns were deployed 10,488 times in England Wales from July 2012 to June 2013, a 13 percent increase on the previous year.