Posted on June 20, 2017

Tasers Issued to Hundreds of London Police After Knife Crime Surge

Express, June 20, 2017

Scotland Yard announced the devices will issued to 1,867 extra frontline personnel, bringing the total number trained and able to carry the equipment to more than 6,400.

Metropolitan Police force commissioner Cressida Dick took the decision following an increase in violent crime in London, including offences involving knifes, as well as rise in assaults against officers.

In a trend replicated around the country, figures show knife crime jumped by almost a quarter in the capital in 2016/17.

Assaults against Met officers increased from 2,211 in 2014 to 2,486 in 2015 and to 2,676 last year.

Commissioner Dick said: “Keeping the public safe from harm is at the heart of our job. With this uplift, my officers will be better-equipped to protect the public and themselves.

“We know that the mere presence of a Taser is often enough to defuse a dangerous situation and often get a suspect to drop their weapon if they’re armed.

“Tasers reduce the need for physical contact and also the risk of unintended or unnecessary injuries to all parties.

“With the roll-out of body-worn cameras to every uniformed officer, the public can also rest assured that the use of a Taser is correctly recorded and monitored and that the use of it is subject to comprehensive scrutiny.”

Use of the equipment has been at the centre of controversy in the past after a number of deaths.

Figures show forces in England and Wales deployed Tasers at a rate of 30 times a day last year, although the number of instances when the weapons were discharged fell.

Surveys carried out by rank-and-file police associations have indicated there is strong support for Tasers to be issued to more frontline officers.

Earlier this year, a new Taser model was authorised for use by forces in England and Wales. The X2 version can be fired twice if it misses or does not subdue the target on the first go.

The Met said it has used Tasers “safely and effectively” since 2003.

Over the past three years, 87 per cent of occasions when a Taser was drawn have been resolved without the device being discharged, according to the force.

Officers must complete a selection and training process before they are given the green light to use the stun guns on the frontline.

Around 1,730 of the newly trained officers will be from boroughs around London, with the remainder based on other specialist units across the Met.

The increase will begin within weeks with the training programme is expected to take around two years.