Civil liberties group warns rise in Taser use due to ‘social control rather than personal protection’

The Canary

The use of Taser stun guns by police forces in England and Wales reached a record high last year, new figures show.

The weapons were fired on 2,500 occasions between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019, which is thought to be the highest number recorded.

Tasers – which deliver a high-voltage electric shock – were deployed in 23,000 incidents in the 12 months to the end of March, according to the Home Office. But police monitoring group Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) warned that it suspects tasers are used  “unlawfully, as a tool of social control rather than a last resort for personal protection”.

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In most cases, the devices were aimed at a suspect without being fired.

The deployment figure is up by more than a third on the year to March 2018 and double the 2016 total.

The Home Office is providing funding to allow an extra 10,000 police officers to carry Tasers.

The weapons were first trialled in UK police forces in 2003, and a roll-out to all forces was completed in 2013.

Kevin Blowe, the coordinator of Netpol, told The Canary:

The escalation of Taser use is an inevitable consequence of giving these weapons to more and more officers, rather than simply because of any direct link to increasing violent crime. It is significant that they are often used to demonstrate officers’ capacity to use force. We suspect Tasers are drawn in many instances, unlawfully, as a tool of social control rather than a last resort for personal protection.

Police unions have largely succeeded in lobbying for every officer to have a Taser and this is matched by an increase in the routine deployment of armed officers on Britain’s streets. Regrettably, this is another small step closer to all officers carrying a firearm.

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  • Show Comments
    1. The headline “Civil liberties group warns rise in Taser use due to ‘social control rather than personal protection’” is specifically misleading. What the article says is that this is simply a suspicion, for which they present no evidence whatsoever.
      Furthermore, the description of “Netpol” as a “Civil liberties group” is also misleading, as they are in fact a campaigning group, set up to challenge policing strategies, like carrying a means of self-protection such as tasers or guns. They appear to care more for the civil liberties of youths carrying knives or terrorists carrying guns, knives or bombs, than they do for the welfare of those brave Police Officers who have to deal with them, and who regularly place themselves in harms way on our behalf.
      Maybe they favour the Corbyn approach of trying to arrest suicide terrorists, rather than shoot them dead before they can kill any more of us. I would like to see the Netpol crew look death in the face on London Bridge or Borough Market.

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