Assistant Chief Constable Lee Freemann has responded to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPPC) report referring to the apparently high use of Taser in Lincolnshire.
The report compared the use of Taser in LIncolnshire to other forces in our region and across the country.
In a statement, he said: “We were pleased to cooperate with the IPCC in their research into the use of Taser by the police service. You will note that Lincolnshire Police has, on first examination, used Taser at a greater proportion of violent incidents than some other far larger forces in our region and across the country. The figures that show this are based on the number of officers in each force, divided by the number of times that Taser has been used at an incident.
In simple terms the use of Taser is defined in three ways, stage one - drawing it from its holster, stage two - ‘red doting’ the alleged offender (This involves pointing the Taser at an offender whereby a red dot appears on their body) and stage three - discharging the Taser.
The force dealt with over 180,000 incidents in 2013.
The IPCC report shows that amongst all those incidents Lincolnshire Police ‘used’ Taser 259 times that year, but it was actually fired only 47 times.
In effect the very presence of Taser was enough to subdue a violent offender on more than four out of five of the occasions it was required.
Perhaps the primary explanation as to the apparent high use of the Taser by the force is the fact that 23 percent of Lincolnshire officers are trained to use Taser compared to an average of 8 percent of police officers across the East Midlands area.
In many other forces only specialist firearms officers are authorised to use Taser.
In 2009, Lincolnshire Police took delivery of 300 Tasers.
Given the large rural area policed by the force, and the time and distances required for Lincolnshire officers to travel the scenes of violent incidents, sometimes involving the threat of the use of conventional firearms, knives or other weapons, we took the decision to train local area response teams.
This enables us to get to violent incidents far quicker and be better equipped to deal with a wider range of potential problems when we arrive.
This decision was taken with the safety of the public and our officers and staff as our first priority.
Violent offenders subjected to an electric shock delivered by Taser are incapacitated for a short time which allows officers to restrain them.
They recover completely within a few minutes.
The Taser is a less lethal option than conventional firearms which potentially might have to be used to subdue an offender with a knife, as an example, if Taser was not available.
Interestingly, since adopting our policy on the training and issue of Tasers to specially trained officers, the deployments of officers with conventional firearms to incidents across the county has reduced by approximately 46 percent from 126 in 2011 (when the current level of authorised Taser officers were fully trained) down to 74 in 2013.
Since 2010-2011, assaults on police officers have reduced by approximately 25 percent.
This may or may not be due to the use of Taser but we believe that this is likely to have at least contributed to the reduction.”
Visit http://www.ipcc.gov.uk/news/ipcc-review-taser-use-and-complaints-published for links to the full report and the review published by the IPCC.