IPCC Raises Concerns Over Close-Range Taser Usage

Police Officers Are Using Tasers At Point-Blank Range Despite Not Being Trained To Do So

28.07.2014

Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397
The Independent Police Complaint Commission (IPCC) has raised concerns over the number of officers using Tasers at close-range, despite no longer being trained to do so.

Tasers were introduced to British policing in 2003 as an alternative for firearms officers facing potentially dangerous suspects. However, forces have now permitted officers to use them in a number of other situations.

The IPCC recognised Tasers as “valuable” in helping officers to manage and control difficult situations, but warned that forces must take steps to avoid overuse of the technique, particularly what is known as a “drive stun”, which involves using a Taser at point-blank range.

In these cases, the Taser is held against the body of a subject and the trigger pulled with no probes being fired, causing pain but not having an incapacitating effect. It was discovered that 16 per cent of firings were in this fashion, despite police officers no longer receiving training on deploying the weapon in this way.

IPCC Commissioner James Dipple-Johnstone said the watchdog had “major concerns” about the use of Tasers in this fashion. He added: "When used in this way it is purely a means of pain compliance. Yet in several of the cases we reviewed, where it was used for the purpose of gaining compliance, it had the opposite effect, stimulating further resistance."

The organisation has called on police forces around the UK to justify their use of Tasers on people officers already have in custody, children and those with mental health problems.

Last year, there were 154 complaints concerning the deployment of Tasers, with 15 of these relating to “drive stun” incidents.

Expert Opinion
Through our work we have seen first-hand the effect Tasers can cause if deployed in an inappropriate situation or without the correct training.

“Weapons like Tasers must only ever be used in extreme circumstances and police forces need to ensure they are providing officers with the appropriate training, supervision and support required to ensure they are deployed correctly.

“It is vital those who have access to Tasers understand the implications of their use, the injuries that improper use can cause, and why they should only be used in exceptional circumstances.”
Fiona McGhie, Associate