English Police Force to Issue Every Officer With a Taser Amid Rising Street Violence

A picture taken on February 29, 2016 in Paris shows taser guns during a presentation of the new equipment for the French anti-crime brigade (BAC) of the prefecture of Paris as part of the 2016 BAC-PSIG Plan. / AFP / ALAIN JOCARD (Photo credit should read ALAIN JOCARD/AFP/Getty Images)
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An English police force is to become the first in the country to issue every officer with electric stun-guns known as Tasers, news that comes days after a police officer was murdered by criminals and among a sharp rise in violence against officers overall.

Northamptonshire police cited a surge in violence against police officers when announcing the wider deployment of Tasers to their officers. Across the United Kingdom, the vast majority of police officers do not carry firearms and those who carry Tasers tend to be specially trained. The announcement of Northamptonshire Chief Constable Nick Adderley marks the departure from that.

Presently, in Britain, the only police to routinely carry firearms are specialist crisis reaction teams, royal and political protection officers, and members of the special constabularies that protect military bases and nuclear plants.

The top Northamptonshire officer said of his decision to arm his officers with Tasers on Tuesday: “When I’m writing statements for courts where an officer has had his ear bitten off, where he’s had his finger bitten off, where she’s been punched in the face and thrown down the stairs, we can see that level of violence rising daily and it’s time now to act… Here in Northamptonshire, we can have officers and staff who are 50 minutes away from any kind of support, and if a member of the public is attacking them or they’re being attacked, then they should have a response to that.”

Crime and policing have become hot-button topics in the United Kingdom, one of the few political areas which have managed to break out among the focus on Brexit’s three-year delay. The announcement comes just four days after Police Constable Andrew Harper was murdered while responding to a burglary near Reading in Berkshire.

Ten men and boys were arrested following the killing, the first of which appeared in court Tuesday, accused of the police officer’s murder. The others have been released on bail. Reports state Harper was killed after being dragged along by a moving vehicle and died of multiple injuries.

The killing of the officer — an unusual event in the United Kingdom, where until recently criminals feared the repercussions of confrontations with the police — came quickly after a number of other attacks. Days before a London officer received significant injuries after being attacked on the head with a machete, and a West Midlands officer was run over with his own patrol car by a thief.

According to government statistics, in 2018/2019, there were over 30,000 assaults on police officers in England and Wales, with “injury on a constable” seeing an increase of 27 per cent. Northamptonshire police claim to have seen a 50 per cent rise in attacks on officers in two years, reports the BBC.


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