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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Norfolk (England) police defend use of Taser guns

This is OUTRAGEOUS!!!! The Norfolk police's argument to justify their refusal to release the number of tasers in their arsenal is absurd and the rest of their statements add up to dangerous propaganda.

Here in Canada, we call the phenomenon of increased taser deployments "usage creep." This is all pretty new in England and the police there have a lot to learn about taser transparency ... they won't make any friends in the public with this attitude. As the fellow quoted says: "... if they use them more it could even increase gun crime, because people will feel they need more to protect themselves against the police."


April 29, 2009
LUCY BOLTON, Norwich Evening News

Norfolk police today defended the use of controversial Taser guns, after new figures revealed officers were being sent out with them three times as frequently as just two years ago.

But police refused to reveal how many Taser guns they possess, rejecting a Freedom Of Information request on the grounds the release of that information would be “inappropriate”.

Used as a weapon by officers to deal with violent or armed people, Tasers are now becoming a more frequent tool in tackling crime.

In 2008/09 Tasers were deployed - which means sent out with an officer when investigating a crime - 405 times and discharged 11 times, compared to 2007/08 when they were deployed 167 times and discharged nine times. In 2006/07 they were deployed only 134 times and discharged twice.

Tasers are a pistol-like device which uses an electrical current to stop a person in their tracks by causing their muscles to contract uncontrollably.

The device uses compressed air to fire two electric shots at the person for five seconds with a 50,000-volt charge.

Norfolk police chiefs today justified the increased use of Tasers as an “effective tool designed to diffuse high risk situations for dealing with violent people.”

Used by specially trained firearms officers, the force started using the controversial guns in 2005 and has just been issued with an extra 75 by the Home Office, costing £1,000 each, a Freedom of Information request revealed.

But the force refused to reveal how many of the devices they have in total. A spokesman said the force had decided it was not in the public interest to release that information, despite acknowledging the ongoing debate about Taser use.

A spokeswoman said: “The information could be interpreted so widely, as is evidenced by previous reports and articles, that it would be detrimental to public engagement in policing issues rather than make a positive contribution.

“Of significant concern is the potential for those intent on committing crime to use this information to determine that Norfolk is a county where they are less likely to encounter the use of Tasers, thereby encouraging them to commit crime in the county, or more likely to encounter the use of Tasers, thus encouraging them to arm themselves.”

Deputy Chief Constable Ian Learmonth said: “Our priority is to support officers working on the front line and the Taser is an effective tool designed to diffuse high risk situations and for dealing with violent people.

“Trials have shown that effective use of the Taser ultimately reduces the risk to officers, offenders and members of the public.”

Mark Buckby, 50, was stunned by one of the guns when police raided the Romany pub in Colman Road last year. He was arrested but charges were later dropped.

Mr Bucky, from South Park Avenue, said: “Taser guns should only be used in response to situations where people are armed. I think that if they use them more it could even increase gun crime, because people will feel they need more to protect themselves against the police.”

Have you had a taser gun used on you? Call Lucy Bolton on 01603 772429 or email lucy.bolton@archant.co.uk

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