Policing leaders have criticised a watchdog’s report that is calling for better Taser training for police officers in the UK
A report from the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) has raised concerns about the increased use of a Taser on both children and the mentally ill in the UK. The report had also found that black people were eight times more likely than white people to be Tasered by police and were more likely to be subject to multiple discharges of tasers.
The report made 17 recommendations to the nation’s police, which it said needed to be implemented urgently to prove most effective.
But the report’s findings have since been labelled “vague” and “lacking in detail” by the country’s policing chiefs who also said that the sample used within the IOPC study had only represented a fraction of cases.
This comes after Extinction Rebellion have begun a two week series of climate protests in London with activists demanding that the UK government stops new investments into fossil fuels. The campaign group is expecting thousands of people to take part in their “Impossible Rebellion”, which is set “target the root cause of the climate and ecological crisis”.
The National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Taser use, Lucy D’Orsi, said that the report was based on fewer than 0.1% of incidents in the UK. She also criticised the IOPC for not properly engaging with the UK’s police and not attending one of its Taser training courses.
She wrote in a blog: “Only 101 Taser uses over a five year period were reviewed and these were all ones that had been investigated by the IOPC. It is concerning that this only represents 0.1 per cent of all Taser uses in the same period, which totals 94,045.”
She said the report’s recommendations: “are mostly out of date and not based on the realities of policing.”
The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) report had raised concerns about an increased use of Tasers on both children and the mentally ill by UK police officers, and said that there were several examples of “missed opportunities” for the nation’s police to de-escalate situations before they resort to drawing a taser, which works by sending electric pulses through the body, which causes temporary incapacitation.
The IOPC had also found that black people were more likely to be subjected to prolonged Taser discharge than white people, according to a review of 101 investigations the watchdog carried out involving Tasers between 2015 and 2020.
The report comes following concerns over a disproportionate use of Tasers in cases involving black people with the country.
The device also featured in the recent court case of police officer Benjamin Monk, who had been convicted of manslaughter when he kicked to death the former footballer Dalian Atkinson. This followed an “excessive” 33-second Taser deployment from the officer.
The IOPC review of its 101 investigations involved 6 children, the youngest being 14 years old, as well as four people who were over the age of 60.
This included a pensioner who had dementia in a care home who was holding a knife, as well as another elderly person who had been mistakenly suspected of being involved in a robbery and was tasered after refusing to get on the floor as a result of a recent knee operation.
This comes after UK prime minister Boris Johnson is expected to ask US President Joe Biden to keep American forces in Afghanistan beyond the 31st of August in order to allow evacuation flights to continue.
In another case, a suspect had fallen into a river after being tasered, and was then further tasered by police officers as they tried to get out of the water.
In several of these cases, there was evidence that police officers did not attempt to communicate with many individuals who had mental health concerns or issues with either drugs or alcohol, and instead only shouted instructions at them, the IOPC said.
It added: “Taser should not be used merely to elicit compliance with instructions or procedures where there is no threat, or the threat has been substantially reduced to the point where it is no longer proportionate or necessary.”
There were also examples of alleged inappropriate comments made by officers during Taser use, including one who discharged their weapon at a person’s face with the phrase: “Have that.”
The IOPC said some of the cases raise questions about whether officers “sufficiently appreciate the risks Taser can pose”.