Police taser use should be closely analysed, says watchdog

Northamptonshire Police officers used tasers on 83 occasions in 2013
Northamptonshire Police officers used tasers on 83 occasions in 2013

The use of tasers by police officers should be analysed and robustly justified to ensure the devices are being properly used, the Independent Police Complaints Commission has said.

The comments have come at the same time as statistics relating to the use of tasers in 2013 have been released.

According to those figures, tasers were used on 83 occasions by officers in Northamptonshire. The county has about 1,220 police officers, meaning tasers were used by seven out of every 100 officers in the force last year.

In comparison, Staffordshire Police saw the most frequent taser use in comparison to the size of the force. The device was deployed on 626 occasions and there are 1,899 officers – meaning taser use was 33 times out of every 100 officers.

The Metropolitan Police saw the most frequent use of tasers – it was deployed 2,110 times in 2013, but because the force has 31,435 officers, this meant it was only used seven times for every 100 officers.

Nationally, tasers were used on 10,380 occasions in 2013. Out of these, 154 cases were referred to the IPCC for further investigation.

IPCC commissioner Cindy Butts said: “The IPCC has always accepted that there are legitimate reasons for using Taser in policing and that it can be a valuable tool in assisting police officers to manage difficult and challenging situations.

“However, in light of the significant increase in Taser use, it is important to ensure that the device is being used appropriately and not as a default choice where other tactical options, including communication, could be effective.

“For that reason, it is very important that each individual use can be justified and that forces closely analyse the extent and type of use.”