THE man at the helm of the Dorset Police has been getting to grips with the controversial use of Tasers after concerns were raised by residents.
Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill took part in a Taser awareness course.
He said his decision to undertake the course was due to having met constituents who have wanted to discuss Taser use on themselves or loved ones, but feeling it is hard to ‘scrutinise or challenge the police if you don’t understand the process.’ Mr Underhill said: “The use of Tasers is a controversial topic and something I wanted to find out more about as on average in Dorset, a Taser is drawn once a week and fired once a month.
“As an ex-police officer, I have been trained in the use of other control techniques such as pepper spray, batons, public order shields and handcuffs.
“However, Taser arrived as I retired, and I attended the training to become more aware of the rationale for deployment, how they are deployed and how they can support the way our streets are policed.
“My role as PCC is to represent the public in policing and hold the force to account for its actions.
“I have met several constituents who have discussed the use of Taser on themselves or loved ones and it is hard to scrutinise and challenge the police if you don’t understand the process.
“Having taken part in the training, I am now much more informed as to how officers make decisions on the use of Tasers, how they are deployed and the effects on the body which are brief but effective.”
Tasers were introduced to British policing in 2003 as a non-lethal alternative for firearms officers facing potentially lethal situations.
Forces across England and Wales now have officers who can use Tasers in a wider-range of situations.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission raised concerns earlier this year about the use of Tasers at point-blank range.
It said a technique known as ‘drive stun’ where the Taser is held against a person’s body and the trigger pulled with no probes being fired, is being ‘overused.’ But the Association of Chief Police Officers said although police do not teach the use of ‘drive stun’ with the cartridge off, it ‘cannot be completely removed from training as there may be emergency circumstances where it is needed.’ Last year, Tasers were used 10,380 times across England and Wales and there were 154 complaints.
In around eight out of 10 cases, the Taser was not fired because the suspect complied with orders.