Police chief defends move to issue Tasers to all force’s frontline officers
Northamptonshire Chief Constable Nick Adderley said the weapons could save the lives of police and members of the public.
Tasers are to be issued to every frontline officer in one police force in response to a “sickening trend” of attacks on the emergency services.
Northamptonshire Chief Constable Nick Adderley, who served in the Royal Navy before joining the police, said the decision to issue the weapons had not been taken lightly.
According to a parliamentary briefing, there were 1,044 frontline officers in the force as of March this year.
Mr Adderley said the weapons will be given to all officers who want one.
He said: “Enough is enough. Every week, I am made aware of more and more sickening attacks on my officers – they are spat at, assaulted on a daily basis, and are being exposed to increasing levels of violence when they are deployed to incidents.
“No-one comes to work to be assaulted and I want to make it crystal clear that my officers certainly don’t. It’s time to give all frontline officers the ability to defend themselves and defend members of the public, which involves equipping them with more than a baton, handcuffs and a can of pepper spray.
“This isn’t a decision I have taken lightly, but there comes a time when we have to accept that risks to frontline officers have changed dramatically in the past 10 years and I have responsibility as Chief Constable to respond accordingly.
“This decision, which is fully backed by Northamptonshire’s Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner, will send a clear message to those who have no respect for law and order and think attacking police officers is acceptable – we will not tolerate any more.”
He added: “My officers in Northamptonshire have a right to feel safe, supported and adequately equipped when they are deployed to incidents, and I wouldn’t be doing my job if I sat here and didn’t take the steps necessary to give them the equipment that could save their lives and the lives of the public we serve.”
It will take 18 months to train and equip the officers and cost around £600 for each of the 300 officers, he added.
In a tweet, Mr Adderley said risks to officers had “changed dramatically”, adding: “Our officers have a right to feel safe, supported and adequately equipped to tackle this sickening trend.”
The announcement follows the death of Pc Andrew Harper in Berkshire last week as he responded to reports of a burglary, the latest incident in which an officer has been harmed while on duty.
Earlier this month, Pc Stuart Outten was attacked with a machete in Leyton, east London, but managed to use his Taser despite being stabbed in the head, while West Midlands Police Pc Gareth Phillips was run over with his patrol car in Birmingham.
Issuing Tasers is a matter for each individual police force, but Police Federation of England and Wales national chairman John Apter said: “We should ensure every officer who wants to carry a Taser can do so.
“Officer safety should never come second to balancing the books.”
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