Met police officers

Met Police: Amnesty calls for more training as use of tasers on public soars by a third

By Rafi Mauro-Benady
January 13 2020, 13.48

The use of tasers by the Metropolitan Police is up by more than a third since November 2018 prompting a warning from Amnesty International.

Figures peaked during August 2019, with 867 recorded uses by officers according to official police statistics.

Tasers, officially referred to as Conductive Energy Devices, fire two small dart-like electrodes which deliver a high-voltage shock to temporarily disable a target. 

This allows officers to deal with potentially violent criminals from a distance.

Tasers were introduced in the UK in 2003 for armed-response units and in 2007 were issued to non-firearms officers known as Specially Trained Officers.

Oliver Feeley-Sprague, Amnesty International UK’s military, security and police programme director, said:

“Tasers are potentially-lethal weapons, which pose a number of risks, especially when misused.

“We would urge the Metropolitan Police to ensure that only highly-trained specialist officers are given these potentially-lethal weapons.

“We would also like to see the training that officers currently receive expanded to include refresher training throughout the year, as well as much stronger guidance restricting the use of the weapon to life threatening or very dangerous situations.”

If an officer aims at the suspect, even without discharging, the weapon is classed as “used” but not discharged.

Since their introduction in 2003, tasers have been subject to controversy. 

An experiment with City of London police found that the presence of Tasers alone lead to more hostility in interactions between police and public.

Home Office figures disclosed to the BBC in 2015 suggest that black people are three times more likely to be tasered than their white counterparts.

26 year-old kitchen porter, Suleyman Mukhtar was tasered in Balham in May 2019.

Mr Mukhtar, of Streatham said: “I can tell you that having been wrongly tasered on suspicion of a crime that I did not commit, I’m not surprised that there has been a rise in people being tasered in the last year. 

“When I got tasered, and some of my friends have been as well, the police just drew for them [tasers] like it’s nothing. The police have a serious problem.”

In the years since tasers were introduced, there have been numerous deaths following the use of tasers, the most notable being former footballer Dalian Atkinson in 2016, who suffered a cardiac arrest.

Scotland Yard was contacted for comment.

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