MPS use of TASERSadmin, · Categories: MET Police
Dear Ward Member,
Communication from Croydon Borough Commander
I am writing to you with regards to the MPS’s plans to increase the availability of Taser across London. Our plans will see a further 1,867 officers trained, which takes the total number of officers trained to just under 6,500, with an increase in the number of devices available taking the total to 2,500.
The principal reason for this uplift is so that we are better equipped to protect the public from the threat of violent incidents, but also to protect our officers from violent assaults.
We’ve taken this decision in light of the increase in violence offences, including knife crime which rose by 24% last year, and the steady increase in the number of assaults on police officers in recent years.
The uplift will see the device made available to more borough based Emergency Response Officers, with 1,729 of the additional 1,867 officers being trained coming from borough response teams. These officers are the most readily available to protect the public, and are also the officers who face the most unpredictable threat. In borough terms, we are talking approximately double the number of Taser trained officers – with most boroughs having at least 40 Taser trained officers already.
It’s a two stage uplift; the first part will see the Met change its deployment policy in line with national guidance. At the moment Taser officers on borough are deployed in pairs. They will still be deployed in pairs for the most part, but only one need carry Taser. That said, Taser officers will also be able to deploy on their own, for example Sergeant supervisors, but the norm for most response officers will be some form of ‘double crewing’. This change to deployment will see an immediate increase in the number of Tasers available 24/7.
The second part of the uplift will see the additional officers trained. We anticipate that this will take 2 years, with the training due to begin later this year in late summer / Autumn. As part of this, the Met will be changing device. Our current model is no longer manufactured, and we will gradually replace these with the new Home Office mandated model, the X2.
Taser is already an important part of the protective equipment available to officers. It’s been safely and effectively used in the Met since 2003 and provides officers with a highly effective option for prevent violent situations from escalating, often without needing to be fired. In 2016 it was fired on just 13% of 1,635 occasions it was deployed. Most incidents where Taser is used are resolved simply by drawing the device, or by using the red dot to highlight to the suspect that it may be used. These are lower uses of force than any form of physical restraint, baton or CS spray – or indeed a firearm – which might otherwise be needed.
We’re very careful to ensure that the officers who use Taser are trained to a high standard, both in how they use it and in post-use procedure. Officers are personally responsible for justifying that each use is reasonable in the circumstances they are presented with. I am responsible for oversight of this in the borough. Each use of Taser is recorded, with data reported to the Home Office, and published on the Met website.
One concern that has been raised in the past is about transparency, in terms of how and when officers use Taser. The roll out of body worn video to all frontline officers will greatly improve the transparency of how we use it, and we hope will also serve to provide understanding as to what happens at any incident
As a key partner I wanted to inform you of our change in approach. You won’t see any visible change in policing style, but there will be increased protection for the public.
Of course, if you need any further information or have any concerns please do let me know.
Chief Superintendent Jeff Boothe
Croydon Police Station