Lincolnshire Police is to train more officers to use Tasers.
The force has taken the decision stating that it already has a large number of officers trained and this month further officers are being trained to keep communities and themselves safe while resolving incidents as quickly and safely as possible..
All Taser equipped officers are selected and trained over and above the national standard required. They are also able to deploy officers from Roads Policing, Armed Response, dog handlers and specialist search teams from the East Midlands Operational Support Service (EMOpSS).
Taser trained officers are said to undergo rigorous training with an initial course of four days, covering the law around how Tasers can be used, decision making, human rights that may be engaged and the considerations required for any use of Taser. This is then followed by two further days within every 12 months to test and refresh their skills and provide updates in terms of legislation and lessons learned from across the country.
Assistant Chief Constable Shaun West leads on Tasers within the force. He said: “I have complete confidence in our Taser trained officers. The training they receive in force stands above the level of training which is required nationally. We pay close attention to our auditing processes, making certain every time Taser is used, which means drawn from a holster and not necessarily fired, it is proportionate to the circumstances and the threat faced by the public and the officer.”
He said: “When our officers run towards danger I personally want to see them kept safe and leave uninjured, so they can then deal with the next incident. The lawful use of this device must be considered by the officer at the time, and this is part of their training. It is my aim to ensure one in every two officers on patrol are trained and equipped with a Taser.”
Chief Inspector Mark Garthwaite, from EMOpSS, who manages Taser within Lincolnshire, said: “This device keeps the public safe, our officers safe and the people we deal with safer. The device has only been fired 10 per cent of the 209 times it has been drawn. Due to the largely rural nature of our county, the spread of officers, our Chief Officer Teams have supported a wide spread of Taser, with the best equipment available. This ensures officers are able to deploy as quickly as possible and bring incidents to a safe and early resolution.”
The force is also seeking to dispel a few myths around Taser use. The term ‘Taser was used’ includes when an officer takes the device out of its holster. The device may never have been pointed at someone, it may have been held behind the officer’s back and never seen by the person being spoken to. This is still counted as being used.
A second myth is that we police use Taser often, but Taser was drawn from a holster 209 times between April 2016 and March 2017. On 85 occasions the Taser was re-holstered without the device being used in any manner. The device was aimed at people 91 times, with a red dot laser sight activated. Taser was discharged 25 times over the year April 2016 to March 2017. This equates to 12 per cent of a Taser device being ‘used.’
Three of the 25 times the device was used in stun only mode, so pressed against someone to complete the electric circuit. Out of the 209 times a Taser has been drawn within Lincolnshire, 22 (10 per cent) of those times has the device been fired and somebody received the electricity that the device delivers.
A third myth is Taser is regularly used on children. The force insist it is not.
Children means anybody under the age of 18. Nine of the 209 times Taser was drawn involved someone under 18. Two of the nine involved a red dot laser being activated. Seven of the nine times a Taser was taken out of a holster but not aimed at anyone. In five of the nine times, one incident includes a 17-year-old who was making threats with a knife and had stabbed another member of the public. A 15-year-old making threats with a knife. A 15-year-old making threats with a blade. At the scene of a large fight where it was reported knives were involved, only one member of the large group involved was 16, the others over 18. An incident where a 17-year-old made off from police and was threatening violence; the officer was on their own, they pointed a red dot laser at the male while awaiting support from other officers.
Every Taser use is recorded by the officer involved; they answer a carefully thought out list of questions to ensure all aspects of the use are explained. Every use of Taser is then scrutinised by Taser experts to ensure they are satisfied the use was proportionate and necessary. Information is regularly downloaded from devices which allows managers to access information about the use of the device.