MORE than 500 police officers in Scotland will start Taser training this month. Police Scotland says the move is in response to an increase in assaults on officers. Some 520 officers will begin their training at the end of the month.
The first recruits are expected to return to their local communities in June. They will be given Taser X2 weapons to be used in both urban and rural areas across Scotland, the force said.
Scottish Greens justice spokesman John Finnie questioned the need for police to carry Tasers. He said: “Scotland’s police officers continue to enjoy public support and remain approachable, and that won’t be the case if they are routinely armed.
“Police officers must have adequate protection in order to protect the public and it’s vital that police work is continually risk assessed, but officers already have stab-resistant vests, batons and CS spray and I wonder the extent to which growing calls from within the service for additional weaponry are prompted by an insufficiency of frontline resources or inappropriate deployments.”
Chief Superintendent Matt Richards said: “Due to the increasing number of incidents officers are attending where people are armed with bladed weapons, and the growing number of assaults on police officers, it is necessary for us to take steps to improve our ability to keep the public and officers safe.
“The officers will be fully trained in the use and safe keeping of the Taser, and there will also be a focus on dealing with vulnerable people and identifying risks to ensure that the deployment of Taser is proportionate and safe. These officers will be deployed at the heart of local policing across Scotland, bringing Police Scotland into line with forces throughout the UK.”
The Scottish Government, Scottish Police Federation and others have been working with the NHS and Police Scotland’s violence reduction unit to improve “de-escalation” techniques, the force said.