Police in Suffolk and Essex to get new Tasers
PUBLISHED: 07:30 03 March 2020
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Police in East Anglia are set to receive more than 200 new Tasers as part of a national £10 million scheme to tackle serious crime.
Successful bids from Suffolk Constabulary and Essex Police for government funding means more officers in both counties will now be more equipped to deal with threats in a non-lethal manner.
Officers in Suffolk are set to receive 68 devices, while their Essex counterparts will be granted 148.
Throughout the UK, almost 8,000 Tasers - also commonly known as stun guns - will be provided for individual forces.
Each Taser costs the government £825, with Suffolk being handed £56,100 and Essex £122,100 as part of the initiative.
Funding was decided based on the threats and risks in each local area, with police and crime commissioners (PCCs) outlining to the government the number of officers they plan to train to use the devices.
Tasers are seen as a non-lethal alternative to conventional firearms as the electrical current they discharge incapacitates targets.
However it is illegal for members of the public to own one under the Firearms Act 1968.
Home Secretary Priti Patel, who is MP for Witham in Essex, said: "Our brave police officers put themselves in harm's way to protect us all and Taser is a vital option in dangerous situations.
"This funding forms part of our commitment to ensure forces have the powers, resources and tools they need to keep themselves and the public safe."
A Suffolk Constabulary spokesman said: "We welcome this uplift in extra funding for the use of Taser as in Suffolk it has proved to be an effective tool to defuse high-risk situations and for dealing with violent people to secure a safe and secure arrest.
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"Police officers and staff regularly face threats when carrying out their duties. This extra funding will help ensure our officers remain as safe as possible whilst serving Suffolk's communities.
"In many cases, its use can be more appropriate than conventional firearms in resolving dangerous situations safely and without injury to any person.
"The mere threat of its use can be sufficient deterrent to deter assailants and ensure a peaceful resolution of the incident. Often when someone is confronted with the possibility that a Taser may be used against them, they are compliant without it having to actually be discharged.
"Taser is only carried by officers who are highly trained. Before deployment is considered an assessment is made based on the situation and the threat/risk presented."
Katy Bourne, Association of Police and Crime Commissioners chair, added: "The priority for all PCCs, alongside keeping the public safe, is the protection and safety of police officers and staff.
"PCCs recognise and appreciate the exceptional and often dangerous job that officers do to protect the public.
"Taser is one of a number of well-proven tactical options available to police officers when dealing with an incident with the potential for conflict and we welcome the additional funding for it.
"PCCs fully support and welcome the consultation on the Policing Covenant which will help to enshrine their rights in law."
Away from Tasers, £3m of the national funding will go towards tackling serious violence and county lines drug gangs.