You may have arrived here via a direct link to a specific post. To see the most recent posts, click HERE.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Case for tasers still to be proved, says police chief David Strang

June 1, 2009
Mike Wade, Times Online

A chief constable has broken ranks with frontline officers and come out against the use of tasers or stun guns in Scotland.

Delegates at the Scottish Police Federation’s annual conference in April voted overwhelming for more widespread use of tasers, mirroring moves in England and Wales to give the guns to 10,000 officers.

However, David Strang, the Chief Constable of Lothian and Borders Police, said that the suitability of tasers in Scotland had still to be proved, arguing that CS spray and body armour were adequate enough defences for officers on the beat.

Mr Strang, 51, said: “I think the taser question is an interesting one and I know it was discussed at the annual conference in Peebles but I don’t think that is a universal view of cops.

“[Using tasers] is quite a specialist skill and I think we would need to be convinced that there was more of a need for it on the front line. I feel that we operate in a much less hostile environment compared to some inner-city areas down south and I feel that the protection we offer officers — through training, the protective equipment and the CS spray — is adequate.”

About 700 police officers in Scotland are trained to use tasers, but the weapons have been discharged only 12 times since their introduction in 2004, on 11 occasions by Strathclyde Police and once by Lothian and Borders Police.

The £8 million plan to expand the use of tasers in England and Wales, which was announced by Jacqui Smith, the Home Secretary, in November, has been opposed by some forces, including the Metropolitan Police.

They argue that the widespread use of tasers will alarm the public and increase tension on the streets while Amnesty International claims that the guns are potentially lethal and have been linked to hundreds of deaths in the US and Canada.

Mr Strang said that it was important to assess the success of tasers in England and Wales before Scottish forces increased their use of the guns.

However, he said claims that tasers could escalate violence were wrong. When CS spray was introduced, he said, there were some people who thought that criminals would respond more violently. “We find that that is not the case at all and CS spray is very effective and quite often when the officers pull it out the offender put their hands up and give up.”

He said that tasers were preferable to firearms. “Clearly it is preferable to use the taser than to shoot someone with a bullet.”


No comments: