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UK: Plans to arm volunteer police officers with tasers a 'dangerous expansion'

‘Arming volunteer officers is a dangerous expansion of Taser use and will inevitably lead to the increased firing of Tasers and more instances of misuse, serious harm and death from Tasers’ - Oliver Feeley-Sprague

Concerns about use against vulnerable groups such as those with mental illness, children and ‘massive overuse on black people’

Responding to news that Volunteer police officers will be given Tasers, Oliver Feeley-Sprague, Amnesty International UK’s policing expert and a member of the independent advisory group to the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on Tasers, said: 

“Plans to arm Specials with Tasers have been threatened for a number of years, but it’s a move that was consistently opposed by members of the National Taser Stakeholder Advisory Group, of which we are a founding member. Changes brought in by the recently enacted Police Crime and Sentencing Bill have removed the final obstacle to allowing it to happen now.

“Arming volunteer officers is a dangerous expansion of Taser use and will inevitably lead to the increased firing of Tasers and more instances of misuse, serious harm and death from Tasers.

“It’s our understanding that Specials will be subject to a rigours assessment prior to being selected to undergo Taser training, but arming volunteers who receive less training overall and do less hours on the job is a worrying erosion of safeguards over Taser misuse.

“Tasers are potentially lethal weapons, linked to hundreds of deaths in the USA and a growing number in Britain, and we’ve always said that UK police forces needed to restrict their use to highly-trained specialist officers, trained on a par with officers carrying firearms.

“We also have specific concerns about Tasers being used against vulnerable groups such as those with mental illness, children and their massive overuse on black people.”

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