Met to up number of officers armed with tasers in move against violent crime

The Met announced plans to increase the number of police officers with Tasers last week following an increase in violent incidents.

A further 1,867 police officers will be equipped with the devices, bringing the total number of trained officers carrying tasers to over 6,400.

Met commissioner, Cressida Dick took this decision following an increase in violent crime, including knife crime, as well as an increase in the number of assaults against police officers.

Figures published by the Met show that in the past year, knife crime offences rose 24%, while attacks on officers increased, from 2,211 in 2014 to 2,676 in 2016.

She said: “Keeping the public safe from harm is at the heart of our job.

“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.”

However, use of the equipment has been controversial in the past and is linked to a number of injuries and deaths.

Former Aston Villa footballer, Dalian Atkinson, 48, who suffered a heart attack after he Tasered by police officers outside his father’s home in Shropshire, last year.

Amnesty International’s UK Arms Programme Director Oliver Sprague said: “Tasers can be a valuable tool, but they are extremely dangerous and can kill, especially when misused.

“This is why it’s important that there is absolute clarity in when and how these weapons are used and the toughest and highest professional standards in place to train, monitor and evaluate its use.”

Ms Dick said: “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.”

The initiative will begin over the coming weeks and the training programme is expected to take around two years.

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