Police armed with tasers face far higher levels of violence

Police officers must decide whether using a taser is legal, proportionate and necessary in the situation
Police officers must decide whether using a taser is legal, proportionate and necessary in the situation

Greater Manchester Police officers who draw tasers fire their weapon more than one in five times, the highest rate in England and Wales.

Officers on the force drew the weapon 832 times, between April 2017 and March 2018, according to new Home Office data.

Of those, they fired the taser on 172 occasions, or 21 per cent of the time.

The rest of the time the weapon was used to threaten suspects, and in 413 cases officers aimed and partially activated the taser so a red target dot appeared on the person.

Police officers must decide whether using a taser is legal, proportionate and necessary in the situation.

Across England and Wales, officers fired their tasers in 11 per cent of the cases they were withdrawn.

The use of tasers by Greater Manchester Police has risen slightly by four per cent over the last year.

Between January and December 2016, the previous comparable 12 month period, the force drew the weapon 799 times.

However, officers fired their tasers 35 fewer times in 2017-18.

Oliver Feeley-Sprague, from Amnesty UK, said the public should “resist drum-beat of calls for all police to carry a taser. Amnesty recognises that the police have a duty to protect the public and themselves from harm, but we’ve got serious concerns about the use of tasers becoming the norm for day-to-day policing,” he said.

“Coroners have pointed to the use of a taser as a key factor in the deaths of two people in the UK, but it’s likely taser use was a factor in many more deaths. The taser is a potentially lethal weapon and should be treated accordingly.

“We’re particularly concerned at the alarming rise in over-use against vulnerable and minority groups, including on people with mental health issues and BAME people.”

In Greater Manchester, police used force against suspects on 5,723 occasions over the 12 month period. This includes forcibly handcuffing someone, hitting a suspect with a baton and using pepper spray.