Government approval for a new generation of Taser is welcome - but it does not answer how forces will be able to fund its roll-out, according to West Midlands Police Federation interim chairman Tom Cuddeford.
The Home Office announced its approval of the new X2 model of Taser for police in the UK last week.
“The public and our members are behind a wider roll-out of Taser. Approval for a new, updated model, the X2, is welcome but, without financial support, it may prove out of reach of the stretched budgets all forces are battling with.
“All police officers should be equipped and trained with the right tools for the job. The X26, which the X2 will replace, is increasingly obsolete with spares hard to find. It is vital that we have clarity on how these new models will be funded and rolled out.”
Steve White, chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, has also expressed his concerns.
He said: “This is very much a case of give with one hand and take with the other. Beyond simply giving it its seal of approval, the Government needs to offer financial support to allow forces to purchase the new device. You cannot put a price on safety.”
He added: “We keep saying it, because it’s true, demand on policing is both changing and increasing. Where we have to adapt to manage this change, we need to equip those on the front-line with the right tools for the job, including Taser.”
In January, 82 per cent of Federated officers who responded to a national survey said Taser should be issued to more front-line officers.
The figures came a month after a public survey showed 71 per cent of those taking part considered it acceptable for police officers to carry Taser when on patrol.
Taser is also by far the preferred option to firearms, with only a fifth of officers surveyed by the Federation in 2016 having or wanting personal firearms for use, and a third wanting or having access to rapid response firearms teams.
From 1 April 2017, the Home Office has stipulated that all use of force must be recorded by officers in the same way, regardless of where they work. Simon Kempton, Federation lead on operational policing, has welcomed the new process in a blog which can be read in full here.
He says: “When refuting accusations levelled at us of using excessive force, we will now be able to argue, with solid evidence, that in comparison to the huge numbers of incidents we attend, we rarely have to resort to using force.
“Furthermore, the Federation will be able to use this data to demonstrate that if we are placed in a position when we must use force that we always try to use the lowest level of force available to us.”
A report on the medical impacts of Taser has been released by the Home Office, and can be found here.