Taser is the brand name of the conducted energy device that the Home Office has approved for UK police forces.
In August 2019, Chief Constable Nick Adderley announced his commitment to arming all front-line officers with Tasers – the first police force in the country to do this.
Whilst it's rare that a Taser is actually fired in Northamptonshire, we feel it’s important to expel some myths around Taser, explain the training officers receive, and how Taser helps to keep people safe.
What is Taser?
A Taser is a bright yellow, hand-held, electronic device. It is only used by officers who have received specialised training and in situations where they need to deal with violent or dangerous individuals at a distance.
Tasers use an electrical current to temporarily incapacitate a person. Extensive medical and scientific tests were carried out before Taser was approved for use.
A Taser is usually held in a holster on an officer's body armour, and is one of several measures available to keep officers and the public safe. It's design ensures the device stands out so is easy to spot and identify.
Officers equipped with a Taser don't use it lightly. They are trained to assess and continually re-assess a situation and must decide on the most reasonable and necessary use of force in the circumstances. The level of force used must be proportionate and officers are individually accountable in law for the amount of force they use.
It is important to note that there are a range of other measures which officers can use as alternatives to Taser, such as physical restraint, batons, and PAVA spray. The decision on which measure to use often depends upon the situation, but Taser will often be the safest way to reach a safe resolution. In the majority of cases involving Taser, the mere threat of its use has been enough to de-escalate a situation and reach a peaceful resolution.
What training do officers receive on Taser?
All of our officers selected to use Taser must pass an intensive four-day training course before becoming qualified Taser operators.
Once qualified, officers must complete two days of Taser refresher training along with personal safety and first aid training.
The course, which follows national standards and guidelines, includes a number of detailed assessments on decision making, scenario based incidents, the use of force, dealing with vulnerable people, and medical implications.
Training doesn't just focus on the Taser itself - it helps officers to fine tune existing skills and teaches them the importance of communication, justification and other procedures such as first aid.
The course combines practical scenarios with classroom based learning and officers are continuously assessed. The scenarios aim to test the officer's decision making and use of relevant legislation around the use of force. Officers are also tested in recognising medical emergencies and any adverse reactions.
Officers must account for each time they remove a Taser from the holster. This justification is checked by a number of levels of supervision. All Taser deployments are recorded and submitted to the Home Office and are subject to a variety of levels of scrutiny from within Northamptonshire Police.
Taser use in numbers
All uses of Taser are reported to the Home office in great detail. In the interests of openness and transparency, we also publish annual statistics of Taser use.