Frontline officers want to be armed with Tasers at all times

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Survey reveals four fifths of cops believe the weapon is essential protection from violent offenders

The vast majority of North Wales Police officers want access to Tasers at all times while on duty, according to a survey.

The study by the Police Federation of England and Wales explored officers’ views on firearms, examining the level of satisfaction with their current access to armed support, and their views on routine arming and other protective measures and equipment.

It found that 79 per cent of respondents want access to the weapon at all times on duty.

The survey found 53 per cent of respondents’ lives had been in serious danger at least once in the last two years, 80 per cent of respondents were not satisfied that armed support would be readily available should they require it, and 35 per cent of respondents personally supported the idea of routine arming.

Rich Eccles, Secretary of North Wales Police Federation, said: “It’s no coincidence that the majority of officers questioned want access to Taser at all times, while a large proportion of those same officers’ lives have been in serious danger in the last two years.

“Taser is an extremely effective means of dealing with the many dangerous situations that officers often face and is a less lethal option than more conventional firearms.

"In 80 per cent of cases where Taser is drawn, it is not fired as the deterrent is enough, which helps protect communities as well as protecting officers from assaults.”

One officer who has personally felt his life has been in serious danger, while in the line of duty, is Sergeant Meurig Jones.

In January 2015, he was assaulted in Menai Bridge, an incident he believes could have been avoided, had he been armed with a Taser.

Sgt Jones said: “I stopped a vehicle and proceeded to search the two people inside. There was nothing untoward in the stop at all, until I discovered a bag in the front passenger foot well.

“Things escalated very quickly and I was subsequently assaulted by the two persons in the car. Had I been armed with a Taser at the time, things could have been quite different.”

The incident left Sgt Jones with a fractured finger and a herniated disc in his neck, which needed spinal surgery. The injuries left him out of action for more than six months.

He firmly believes Tasers should be more readily available, as officers are working alone far more often, leaving them more at risk.

Sgt Jones added: “I think the availability of Tasers for more officers is something which would prevent the risk of assault on officers.

“The problem if you haven’t got a Taser is that you still have to get in the fighting arc of the suspects.

"A spray is very useful but the Taser is another tool in the armoury. Once you’ve warned them you have a Taser, very few people want to come near you because they know the consequences of what happens if you do.

“Don’t get me wrong, Tasers aren’t for everybody, but if you feel that you could use it and you pass the course then it should be something that’s far more readily available.”

A spokesman for North Wales Police Federation added: “This is just one of many incidents where police officers have faced extreme danger and violence.

"Had the officer been in possession of a Taser then the outcome and resolution could well have been very different resulting in far less danger to the officer and the public.”

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Thursday, 19 September 2019

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