More police officers in Sussex will be able to use Tasers when there a real threats of violence.
Sussex Police announced today that some of the force’s specially-trained non-firearms will be able to use the stun devices which can disarm a person by firing two small dart-like electrodes which can discharge 50,000 volts.
Previously Sussex Police was one of a small number of forces which restricted the use of Taser to authorised firearms officers only.
However, Sussex Police has said that after monitoring other forces who allow non-firearms officers to carry a Taser, it will be rolling its use out to some other officers who have received special training from next Monday, March 4.
Somed 160 officers, around eight per cent of the force, from local response and support teams will have been trained to use the Taser in situations when they are introduced next week.
Sussex Police say that once trained, officers will be able to use the Taser to support colleagues dealing with violent or threatening situations. It will also reduce the number of times armed response units are deployed.
Chief Superintendent Paul Morrison from Sussex Police’s Operations Department said: “Experience shows that simply the presence of Taser acts as a deterrent to the escalation of violence.
“Nearly 70 per cent of incidents where there is a possibility of using Taser, end without it being discharged.
“Studies have also showed that the presence of Taser reduces the levels of force required by officers in violent situations avoiding, for example, the use of a baton or captor. In a significant number of cases simply the drawing and aiming of Taser is enough incentive for the person posing the threat to comply with officers.
“The majority of people will not see any change in day-to-day policing. Patrols by officers and PCSOs will continue as normal, however in the event of a violent situation they may now request Taser support by colleagues locally, rather than from firearms officers who are based at central locations.
“Authority to use Taser will still have to be granted by senior officers, as has always been the case, and it is not the first option. Officers have a range of skills and tactics they can choose from and the most appropriate option for the circumstances will be used.
“The decision to roll out Tasers to non-firearms officers is not an indication that the threat of violence has increased in Sussex but a way of enabling us to deploy Taser trained officers more quickly to situations where they are needed to protect the public.
“An equivalent of a ‘black box’ is stored within the Taser so that each deployment can be monitored and processes are in place to make sure this is done lawfully and in accordance with training.
“All the officers who will be authorised to carry Taser undertake an intense week-long training course. The course includes theory alongside practical exercises and examines their decision making processes in pressured situations.
“To be qualified to carry Taser an officer must pass this course, which includes a number of assessments”.
Police have said there are no specific health risks for someone who has been tasered. Part of the training for officers includes after-care, when a Taser has been discharged.