The Home Office released its latest figures on the amount of times police officers have used or drawn the Taser over the past 12 months yesterday.
This came as no surprise because there are now not only more officers carrying this potentially lethal weapon, but they are also allowed to use the weapon in a greater set of circumstances, according to the Home Office.
This is pretty worrying really. You’ve heard us say it before, but I’ll say it again. Tasers are potentially lethal weapons. They’re dangerous. People have died after being shocked by Tasers.
When used up close to a person's body, the Taser can inflict severe pain. The UN Committee Against Torture described the impact of the Taser weapon as “provoking extreme pain, constituted a form of torture and that in certain cases it could also cause death.”
They are not like the ordinary police baton, or CS gas or any other weapon at police officers' disposal. And this is why they should only by used in a restricted set of circumstances by officers who undergo the same ongoing, intensive and rigorous training as specialist firearms officers.
There is a place for Tasers in police force’s kit. They are definitely a preferred alternative to a gun, there’s no question about it. Sometimes lethal force is required, and sometimes less lethal force – i.e. Tasers – are required. Sometimes, simple negotiation and discussion is all that’s needed to abate a tense situation.
Thankfully our police officers are equipped with all of these tools and skills. But if the easy option to subdue a drunken brawl becomes whipping out a Taser and threatening to use it in a situation that definitely doesn't merit it, then what kind of policing culture will Britain have?
Shall leave you to ponder as you enjoy the rest of the day. Kate's written a piece on Comment is free today, so have a read of that when you can.
Oh yes, apologies for not posting a blog yesterday. I had every intention of writing about Refuge’s new report on domestic violence but then a pressing request with a tight deadline fell into my inbox, which basically kyboshed the rest of my day!
Til the next time
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.