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Every UK police officer will have Taser to tackle rise in violence, chief constable predicts | UK News

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Every police officer in the UK will be armed with a Taser within three years due to “worrying” levels of violence, a chief constable has predicted.

Northamptonshire Police chief Nick Adderley told Sky News he believes the stun guns will be issued as standard protective equipment, alongside batons and handcuffs, to deter people from attacking officers.

It comes after his force recorded a near-50% increase in assaults on police officers in the last two years.

Chief constable Nick Adderley (right) believes all UK police officers will be armed with Tasers in the future. Pic: Northamptonshire Police
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Nick Adderley (right) believes all UK police officers will be armed with Tasers. Pic: Northamptonshire Police

“What’s more worrying is the level of violence towards police officers and police staff,” Mr Adderley said.

“I’ve made the prediction that, probably within the next three years, Tasers will be considered as personal protective equipment and it would be issued alongside batons, gas and ‘cuffs.

“As we see society changing, and unless there’s going to be major U-turn over the next couple of years, I actually think it’s right and proper… there has to be a reaction and a consequence to the level of violence towards emergency service workers, particularly police officers.”

Mr Adderley said he has been considering making Northamptonshire Police the first UK force to arm all its front-line officers with Tasers, which he expected would cost £220,000.

He told Sky News the move would make “fiscal sense” as officers had been off sick for up to four years after being attacked.

File photo 26/02/13 of a police officer demonstrating the use of a Taser as a majority of the public think it is acceptable for police to carry Tasers when on patrol, a survey suggests.
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Northamptonshire Police say arming all its officers with Tasers would cost £220,000

He said he would prioritise arming officers who respond to 999 and 101 calls and neighbourhood officers who often work alone in “isolated areas”.

“If you think about the number of officers I’m losing through injury, who are off sick, it makes more fiscal sense to actually invest to this level,” he added.

“This isn’t just about verbal altercations or a bit of pushing and shoving.

Police have revealed the ages of people Tasered sine 2016
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Amnesty International has warned of the health risks of Tasers

“This is the real high end of grievous bodily harm or actual bodily harm which we’ve started to see an increase in.

“That’s why I’ve said we’re going to have to respond and react to that, by making sure we have the deterrent that’s necessary to protect staff.”

Sky News previously revealed that police fired Tasers at children as young as 13, elderly people including a 77-year-old pensioner and at least 37 dogs between January 2016 and November 2018.

Amnesty International warned at the time that the weapons were not “toy guns” and urged officers to stop firing them at people at greater risk of serious health problems and even death.

Mr Adderley said decisions about the use of police Tasers were “not taken lightly” and officers had prevented murders, suicides and fights among offenders by drawing or firing the 50-000 volt stun guns.

He also said the high-profile deaths of Dalian Atkinson, Jordan Begley and Adrian McDonald, who had all been tasered, were not directly caused by the weapons.

“The Taser is not just about protecting the officer, it’s about protecting the wider public as well,” Mr Adderley said.

“I would far rather be tasered than hit over the head with a metal bar or sprayed in the face with gas.

“The research behind Tasers and the safety of Tasers is well documented.”

Dalian Atkinson in action for Villa in 1991. Pic: Shaun Botterill/Allsport
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Dalian Atkinson, pictured playing for Villa in 1991, died after being tasered

The Crown Prosecution Service announced in October it was considering potential criminal charges against two officers over the death of former Aston Villa footballer Atkinson, who suffered a fatal heart attack in 2016 after being restrained.

After the recent spate of fatal stabbings in London, Mr Adderley said it was “naive” to expect that increasing the roll-out of Tasers among officers would reduce the number of people carrying knives.

However, arming more police with Tasers was likely to reduce the level of injury suffered by officers who tackle people with knives and could deter attacks from happening, he added.

Mr Adderley also said he hoped the next prime minister – either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Hunt – is “alive to these issues and is listening”.

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