Norfolk police used Tasers more than 500 times in a year, figures show
- Credit: ©Archant Photographic 2010
Frontline police officers in Norfolk used Tasers more than 500 times in a year but never discharged the electric shock weapons, figures show.
Home Office data shows large increases in Taser use, with greater numbers of officers being trained to use them.
The number of incidents nationally where they have been used doubled to around 32,000 in 2019/20.
The figures show that Tasers were used 588 times in Norfolk in the year to March 2020, while in Suffolk they were used 363 times, though officers in both counties did not discharge the weapons on any of those occasions.
Andy Symonds, chairman of Norfolk Police Federation, said it was important to understand what a ‘use’ means.
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“Every time an officer takes a Taser from its holster, the red dot is aimed, the device is arced or indeed fired then this is classed as a use,” he said.
Nationally on 85pc of occasions where the weapons were drawn the officer did not feel the need to fire the device.
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“This demonstrates an incredible level of restraint and professionalism from my colleagues who have to make split second decisions on what level of force to use,” he added.
Last year Norfolk received extra funding for 132 more Tasers, while neighbouring Suffolk added 68 more of the stun gun devices.
A recent Independent Office for Police Conduct report raised serious concerns around the unnecessary or unsafe use of the devices, particularly against non-white or vulnerable people and children.
It warned that police risked losing public confidence if concerns around Taser use were not addressed through improvements to guidance, training and scrutiny.
Chief constable Lucy D'Orsi, the National Police Chiefs' Council lead for less lethal weapons, said: "Policing is not easy and in many violent situations I believe Taser is a viable less lethal option for officers between using a baton and the lethal force of a gun."
Mr Symonds said: “We’ve seen the continual rise in assaults upon my colleagues. They work single crewed often and in rural parts of Norfolk which means back-up can be many miles away.
"Taser is an effective bit of equipment that keeps my colleagues and our communities safe.”