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UK: review into police use of Tasers against BAME people welcomed

Responding to reports that the police are to commission independent research into the disproportionate use of Tasers against people from black and ethnic minorities by police forces in the UK, 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: 

“For years we’ve been calling for a formal review of the guidance around all aspects of the police’s use of Tasers, so this is a welcome move. 

“The researchers will need to be properly consultative and absolutely unafraid to look at some of the uncomfortable home truths about racism in British policing.

“Recent highly-disturbing cases of apparent police misuse of Tasers against black people in Manchester and north London have only added to the need for a full re-examination of the police’s record on Tasers.

“There are also concerns about Tasers being used against vulnerable groups such as those with mental illness and wider concerns about their over-use in general. 

“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.

“In some circumstances, Tasers can be effective if used by well-trained officers to prevent loss of life or serious injury - but they’re open to misuse and over-use.

“This review should be just the start of a major re-examination of the way these dangerous weapons are being used by the police in our communities.”

Millard Scott case

Earlier this week, Amnesty called for an investigation into the police's use of a Taser against Millard Scott, a 62-year-old man who was Tasered in April as he stood on a staircase inside his home. Scott's son, a rapper known as Wretch 32, recently publicised the incident through the release of disturbing mobile phone video footage and strongly questioned the justification for using the weapon against his father. 


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