Increased use of Taser and PAVA ‘no surprise’ says firearms chief

Jon Dodman, Head of Special Operations for Suffolk and Norfolk. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Jon Dodman, Head of Special Operations for Suffolk and Norfolk. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

There has been a steady rise in the use of Taser and PAVA spray by Suffolk police over the last five years.

A police taser Picture: GETTY IMAGES/iSTOCKPHOTO

A police taser Picture: GETTY IMAGES/iSTOCKPHOTO - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request reveal officers wielded Tasers 180 times last year, up on 152 in 2016, and 129 in 2015 and 2014.

The use of PAVA spray has also increased, from 95 in 2014 to 138 in 2017.

However, Supt Jon Dodman, head of specialist operations for Suffolk and Norfolk police, said this was due to more officers than ever being equipped with the “less lethal” weapons.

He said: “In this context ‘use’ of Taser doesn’t mean someone getting Tasered.

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“There are various different uses for Taser, one of which is just being taken out of the holster.

“It counts if you red dot someone because it goes down as a use of force.”

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Mr Dodman said Taser and PAVA are important new additions to modern police officers’ kit.

He said: “We don’t give everybody a Taser, there is a strict selection criteria for who does.

“When Taser first came through they were only given to firearms officers because it fits in with their training.

“Following a number of years, their use by firearms officers was extended to other officers.

“If you are dealing with someone with a knife, previously you would have a firearms officer there who would have a baton gun. But the Taser is a much more readily available and smaller option to use.

“Every use of Pava or Taser is recorded and monitored.

“Even if a Taser is just drawn, it is recorded.

“The main thing about these weapons is the fact that they are a used to subdue a dangerous person when all other means of getting that person to comply have been tried and exhausted.

“It is seen as a real advantage for officers as it is a less lethal option to use.

“A Taser is most unpleasant to experience, no one would want to be Tasered, but unless there are underlying medical issues there will be no lasting effect once it is over.”

He said he was not surprised there had been a rise in the number of uses, as more officers are now carrying a Taser.

“You will notice across the country that all forces have been increasing the number of police officers that can deploy a Taser,” he said.

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