Last month the Home Secretary announced the Home Office would be authorising special constables to carry tasers in line with the 2020 Code of Practice for Armed Policing and Police Use of Less Lethal Weapons.
Detail and commentary
Home Secretary Priti Patel has announced that part-time special constables will now be allowed to use Tasers, as part of a crime initiative announced last month. Tasers were first introduced to the UK in 2003, but over the years the scope of officers authorised to carry and use them has substantially widened. It is perhaps no surprise, therefore, that Tasers have become the fastest growing use of force tactic in recent years, the number of uses more than doubling between the year ending March 2018 (16,913) and the year ending March 2021 (34,429). There is no age restriction on the use of Tasers, meaning that they can (and are) used on children and young people.
Amnesty International and other human rights organisations have condemned the move, referring to it as a ‘dangerous expansion’ leading to inevitable increased firing and more instances of misuse and serious harm.
Police campaigning charity StopWatch said:
“Freedom of information requests found that Black children face the stun guns three times more often than their White counterparts. One reason for this racial disparity – and why organisations like StopWatch and UNICEF have previously called for age restrictions in Taser use – is the adultification of Black children by law enforcement authorities…. The Home Secretary seems willing to waive through an expansion in TASER uptake which is likely to accelerate the normalisation of armed police. This will, by extension, increase the likelihood of lethal weapon use, the brunt of which will continue to be disproportionately felt by Black adults and children, especially those with mental health issues.”
Written by Ella Jefferson, Solicitor, Bindmans LLP