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Taser stun guns used 626 times by Staffordshire Police making the force one of the highest users in the country

By Staffordshire Newsletter  |  Posted: July 22, 2014

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STAFFORDSHIRE Police have used Taser stun guns 626 times in the last nine years.

The force is one of the biggest users of the guns, according to a national report by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Taser uses per 100 officers totalled 33, compared to 11 in Greater Manchester and seven for London's Metropolitan Police.

The report, a review of Taser complaints and incidents between 2004 and 2013, also reveals the force was fourth in the country for the total number of Taser uses.

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The Met had the highest total uses, with 2,110, West Midlands Police had 995 and Greater Manchester Police used their Tasers 816 times.

The IPCC's report said the use of Tasers across the country had widened considerably.

But assistant chief constable Bernie O'Reilly said Tasers were fired in just 61 of the incidents and officers always tried to resolve violent incidents, including those involving armed people, in a proportionate and measured manner using the least amount of force.

He said: "Taser is a less lethal option when dealing with violent situations or suspects and helps officers bring these incidents to a safe conclusion while reducing risk to the wider public, themselves and colleagues.

"Staffordshire Police has 429 officers trained in the use of Taser. We can confirm that out of the 626 Taser uses listed in the IPCC report, only 61 – less than 10 per cent – were occasions when a Taser was actually fired, equating to just three per 100 officers in Staffordshire.

"Every time a Taser is drawn by an officer a record is made. The force's Performance Assessment Unit (PAU) undertakes regular spot checks to ensure this standard is maintained.

"All officers equipped with a Taser receive mandatory annual refresher training which is a pass or fail assessed course.

"Tasers have made a significant contribution in a number of challenging situations, allowing police officers to bring violent offenders under control without causing injury to the person, wider members of the public, or the officers."

The IPCC is calling for wider training scenarios for police officers and better guidance over the use of Tasers on people in custody. It is supporting a review of Taser training and warns against using equipment because it is available, rather than because it is necessary.

The report states: "It is unsurprising for urban areas with large populations and a large number of officers to have higher than average rates of Taser use, but that is not the case for all the forces listed.

"There may be valid reasons for the frequency of use but the frequency and type of Taser use and its justification on each occasion, should be carefully monitored and analysed by forces and Police and Crime Commissioners."

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