More police given Taser training in Ipswich

A further 32 police officers in Ipswich have been trained to use the incapacitating Taser electric shock weapon, Suffolk Constabulary revealed today.

The move follows a similar expansion of the weapon’s use in Lowestoft, where 24 regular response officers were trained in July last year.

The officers in Ipswich have been operational for the past four weeks.

Authority to use Tasers - given when a high ranking officer deems a situation to be potentially dangerous - has been granted ten times in Ipswich in the last month. Of these ten incidents, a Taser has only been discharged once.

Police say Tasers are an effective tool for officers faced with situations that may put members of the public in serious danger and say they are a less lethal means of incapacitating someone in situations where conventional firearms might also be used.

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A spokesman said: “In all situations negotiation is the key to dealing with potential violent offenders however police are sometimes faced with incidents where the person does not wish to negotiate.”

Inspector Les King of the Firearms Training Unit added: “The Taser is simply another option for regular response officers and will only be deployed under strict supervision, with the priority being the safety of the public as well as that of the offender.

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“They are a very effective tool in violent and threatening situations and we often find that when an offender is confronted with the possibility that a Taser may be used against them they will comply with officers prior to the deployment of Taser.

“Simply having a Taser drawn and pointed at them is usually enough to make the offender think again.”

Tasers were first introduced in Suffolk in August 2005. During 2009/2010 Taser authority was issued in Suffolk on 337 occasions and of these a Taser was discharged on just two occasions.

Officers in Ipswich selected for training had to apply and meet fitness, hearing and other criteria.

Inspector Simon Mills, who undertook the recent Taser training, said: “The training is very thorough, during which officers are taken through a number of different scenarios based around incidents they commonly attend.

“The use of Taser is then considered as a course of action along with the equipment that officers already carry and members of public can be assured that the officers trained are highly competent and the decision to use Tasers will only be made when completely necessary.”

Tasers work by discharging a pair of probes from an electrical device.

The probes contain barbs that connect with skin or clothing to create a circuit. Fifty thousand volts of electricity is then passed through the subject, causing temporary incapacitation.

Police say it is particularly effective against potentially violent offenders, as it disrupts their neuromuscular control, effectively disabling them.

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