Volunteer Police Authorised To Carry Tasers

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Volunteer Police Authorised To Carry Tasers

In mid-May 2022 the holder of one of the Great Offices of State, Priti Patel, the Home Secretary announced that the Home Office has plans in train to permit special constables to carry Tasers on their persons.

What Are Tasers?

A Taser is a fluorescent yellow, hand-held conducted energy device carried by officers who have been authorised by the police. It is a fluorescent yellow colour to make the weapon more visible to members of the public. Officers are allowed to carry Tasers on the condition that they only use them in circumstances where they are confronted by persons who are of a threatening, aggressive and angry disposition. The officer considering using the device must be standing at a reasonable distance from the person using the intimidating behaviour. The officer must also have undergone the required intensive half-a-week course of training. Following the completion of such training, authorised officers are then classified as qualified users of Tasers.

Flash In The Pan?

Is this just a mere flash in the pan or part of a wider trend affecting the legal sector? The move to allow special constables to use Tasers is a part that may have been contemplated since their introduction by the Northamptonshire Police Force nearly two decades ago in 2003. In addition, they are also obliged to be proficient in First Aid and personal safety. The range of officers who have been permitted to carry Tasers has broadened considerably since the devices were first brought in the year 2003.

Everybody’s Happy?

This move to introduce Tasers for special constables has not attracted any comments, or criticism and has been accepted by everyone, right? Like most issues affecting the law, this reform has attracted criticism from numerous quarters such as the Youth Justice Legal Centre and Amnesty International. The latter was intensely critical of the reforms and described the broadening of the categories of persons who are allowed to use Tasers as risky. Amnesty International is deeply concerned that the widening of the persons authorised to use such weapons may consequently result in more inappropriate uses of such weapons and significant damage.

A charity which specialises in campaigns involving the police made an alarming discovery. It carried out a piece of research following Freedom of Information requests and found that young persons of black origin were in percentage terms around three hundred per cent more likely to experience the use of a Taser in comparison to those children of white origin. StopWatch described the move towards permitting special constables to be armed with Tasers as the apparent appearance of the police authorities to waive through an increase in the amount of Tasers. The charity is concerned about the change in culture towards perceptively normalising the arming of the police with such weapons which may be brought about by the Home Secretary’s new policy. Stopwatch further speculates that the culture change may result in a higher probability that devices of this kind may be used on persons of black origin in a way which is out of proportion with those of white origin. The charity worries that persons with mental health conditions may be particularly adversely affected.

Why Is The Racial Gap So Wide?

Charities like the aforementioned StopWatch and also UNICEF believe that the increasing trend of treating children of black origin as though they are adult persons is particularly pervasive among police agencies.

The United Kingdom would be best advised to listen to the criticism of its policy of extending and mitigating the risk of it adversely affecting ethnic minorities and persons afflicted by mental health problems.

The Legists Content Team

ASSESSING FIRMS

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THE ARTICLE WAS WRITTEN USING THE FOLLOWING SOURCES

[1] Jefferson, Ella – Home Secretary extends the use of Tasers to volunteer police officers in England and Wales – Youth Justice Legal Centre - Home Secretary extends the use of Tasers to volunteer police officers in England & Wales (yjlc.uk)

[2] 2020 Code of Practice for Armed Policing and Police Use of Less Lethal Weapons

[3] Amnesty International – UK: Plans to arm volunteer police officers with tasers a ‘dangerous expansion’ – 16 May 2022 - UK: Plans to arm volunteer police officers with tasers a 'dangerous expansion' | Amnesty International UK

[4] Johnson, Sabrina – Volunteer police officers to be given powers to use Tasers on suspects – Metro – 16 May 2022 - Volunteer police officers to be given powers to use Tasers on suspects | Metro News

[5] Northampton Police – Tasers - Taser - what is it and how do we use it? | Northamptonshire Police (northants.police.uk)

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