More Plymouth police officers to be trained to use Tasers
MORE Plymouth police officers are being trained to carry Tasers in future, including many who cover drinking hotspots, such as Mutley, North Hill and Union Street .
Police currently have 132 specially trained officers in Plymouth who regularly carry a Taser as part of their everyday equipment. Thanks to a successful funding bid by the force to the Home Office for Tasers and training, the figure will rise as a further 64 officers are given the specialist training over the next 12 months, bringing the figure to 196.
Officers who work on the frontline, such as response officers, have been prioritised as they are considered to be carrying out duties where they are placed at the greatest risk.
The Taser incapacitates subjects by passing 50,000 volts of electricity into the body via two 21ft wires.
It disrupts the muscle movement of the suspect, with the intention of rendering them incapable of normal movement.
Insp Dan Ivey who is co-ordinating the training, said: "My aim is to arrange to train and equip 80 percent of police officers who work as part of our emergency response teams with Taser.
"In real terms, that means we will have around 18 officers on duty at any one time equipped with Taser, 24 hours-a-day, seven days a week, patrolling the city and its outskirts and responding to calls for assistance from the public.
"In addition, we are looking to train some officers who we deploy regularly as part of Operation Expound – which refers to our evening and night-time economy covering Union Street, the Barbican, Mutley Plain, North Hill and the Oceana nightclub."
Insp Ivey said he was keenly aware of the controversy over some instances where Tasers have been used, such as one recent incident in Lancashire where a registered blind man was Tasered because officers mistook his white cane for a sword.
He said: "The use of Taser by specially trained officers quite rightly attracts public scrutiny and officers go through a rigorous training programme which is pass or fail, consisting of a written examination and 'scenarios' with qualified instructors.
"Each time a Taser device is activated it is subject of a review to ensure it is appropriate and proportionate.
"We also cross reference information contained in the Tasers mini-computer with deployment reports to ensure we have a robust system in place in order to maintain public confidence in its use.
"We ask our officers to place themselves in harm's way on behalf of the law abiding majority, so it is only right that we provide them with the latest technology to help them arrest dangerous and violent people."