£10m Taser fund ‘cautiously welcomed’ by Suffolk police federation chairman
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A £10million pledge to increase the number of officers carrying Tasers has been “cautiously welcomed” by the Suffolk police federation.
Darren Harris, chairman of Suffolk Police Federation, said anything which helps to protect officers is "a positive" but warned the ring-fenced fund is not new money.
Last month, the Home Office announced it was giving police forces £10m in additional funding to increase the number of officers around the country carrying Tasers.
The ring-fenced funding could mean 10,000 more police officers in England and Wales will be able to carry the electric stun guns to help protect themselves and the public, according to the Government.
MORE: Should Suffolk police arm all its officers with taser guns?Mr Harris said: "I cautiously welcome this headline grabbing announcement of a £10m ring-fenced funding to increase the number of officers carrying Tasers.
"Anything which protects my members from assaults, some of who work in very isolated rural areas, must be seen as a positive.
"Let it be known that this is not new money but ring-fencing part of the bigger budget for the 20,000 extra police officers.
"This broad announcement lacks detail and I will be working with the constabulary to see what this means for my members."
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Statistics released under Freedom of Information (FoI) laws showed 344 officers in Suffolk are currently trained to use Tasers, with 25 awaiting training.
The figures, up to September 3, also revealed a gender split of 294 men and 50 women who are Taser-trained in Suffolk.
In August, Essex Police said it had 391 officers trained to carry a Taser but that number would increase to 711 following the recruitment of more officers.
Steve Taylor, chairman of Essex Police Federation, said: "Any move which secures the funding required to increase the provision of Taser for Essex officers, is welcomed by the Essex Police Federation.
"Taser is tried and tested at keeping our communities safer when dealing with those intent on using violence against others.
"It's clearly an operational decision but we support our chief constable as he looks to grow the number of Tasers available to keep Essex safe."
MORE: East of England police forces to recruit more than 450 new officers by 2021Northamptonshire Police Chief Constable Nick Adderley made headlines in August when he took the decision to issue Tasers to all officers from his force who wanted one.
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable David Cutler, from Suffolk police, said: "The safety of our officers and staff will always be a priority for constabulary.
"We carefully consider the nature of the threat and the level of risk faced by officers and use this to determine how many we need to carry tasers.
"Significant work has, and continues to be undertaken, to ensure our officers have the most effective and up-to-date equipment and this includes the provision of Tasers.
"Tasers are only one part of officer safety that includes other personal protection equipment and specialised training. Our officers, PCSOs and police staff are also supported by armed officers who will deploy to appropriate incidents.
"While we have no immediate plans to increase numbers of officers armed with Tasers, we will continue to review our position."