Yorkshire police chief to consider training all officers to use Tasers

The weapons deliver a 50,000-volt shock to incapacitate a suspect
The weapons deliver a 50,000-volt shock to incapacitate a suspect

Humberside Police's chief constable says he will consider training all officers in the force to use electronic Taser weapons because of rising violence against officers.

It comes after a weekend in which 11 members of staff, including eight police officers, were assaulted.

Humberside Police Chief Constable Lee Freeman

Humberside Police Chief Constable Lee Freeman

One of the officers was "strangled to the point he could not breathe", said chief constable Lee Freeman, as well as being bitten on the back of the head by a dog and repeatedly punched in the eye and in the face after being called to a report of domestic abuse involving a female victim.

On Sunday night another officer was punched and bitten, a special constable kicked in the head and a detention officer assaulted.

Mr Freeman said the number of assaults was “completely unacceptable" and he would the consider the training given to “every single” officer.

Currently 333 officers in the force are trained to use Tasers, which deliver a 50,000-volt shock to incapacitate a suspect.

He said: “Police officers and staff are all real people with families. Every one of those injured this weekend is a mother, father, son daughter or grandparent.

"They are victims of crime the same as anyone is, and their physical and mental wellbeing is affected by such experiences.

“I have to protect my officers and staff, and every bit of and support available will be given to anyone who is assaulted at work.

" This includes the right training and equipment for all of our officers, and if that means every officer has to carry a Taser, that’s a conversation we can have and I’m prepared to look into.

“I know from the responses to my tweets on social media at the weekend that the you, the public, do appreciate the job we do and our efforts to protect you, and I want thank those who have offered their kind words to our officers and staff."

Peter Musgrave, chairman of Humberside Police Federation, which represents rank and file officers, said frontline officers should have access to training if they wanted it.

He added: “The chief is right - we police by consent. We serve the public, is that what they want?

“At the moment too many cops are being assaulted. It a conversation to be had. We are building up to having that conversation. It doesn't feel too far away.

“It feels like it (violence) has gone through the roof. Eleven over the weekend, including police staff - what is going on?

“There’s a knock on with all of them - some are relatively minor and people bounce back and are pragmatic but some are really impactive and leave people lacking that confidence that continues for weeks or longer, and there is the stress and anxiety of that.

“If officers can’t do their job properly how can they serve the public? That’s first and foremost.

"If it means having a conversation with the public then fine - ultimately the level of assaults can’t go on.”

Last year a poll by West Yorkshire Police Federation found 90 per cent of officers surveyed felt all front-line colleagues should be issued with Taser whilst on patrol.

Eight-six per cent of the members of the public in West Yorkshire backed the same idea of increasing the number of Taser-trained officers beyond the current total of around 400.

Earlier this year the National Police Chiefs’ Council argued that raw recruits should be allowed to carry Tasers to combat rising levels of violent crime and an unprecedented terror threat.

Current regulations allow only officers with two or more years’ experience to be armed with the weapons, which are used to stun suspects who resist arrest.

Under the plans, probationers would be able to choose whether to apply for Taser training.

Tasers can cause cardiac arrhythmia in healthy subjects and have been linked to a number of deaths nationally.

The weapons deliver a 50,000-volt shock to incapacitate a suspect and critics say they are too often lethal.