Tasers used at less than 1% of incidents attended by trained Essex officers
- Credit: Archant
Armed police were called to more than 500 incidents across Essex last year.
Incidents ranged from reports of dangerous criminals armed with guns, to people posing a risk of harm to themselves and others.
Essex Police revealed its two main firearms teams – one responding to incidents across the county and the other based at Stansted Airport – were deployed on 522 occasions throughout 2017.
The teams also carried out planned deployments on warrants, operations, and arrests involving individuals suspected of possessing firearms or dangerous weapons, based on intelligence.
Chief Inspector Richard Melton said events like the London and Manchester attacks demonstrated the need for firearms officers.
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“It’s a difficult job where our officers know, when they are called upon, they will likely face a dangerous weapon, sometimes wielded by individuals fully prepared to use them,” he added.
“Those situations could involve distressed members of the public, people who are injured, or even in rare cases a hostage situation, and our officers will then face a split second decision to decide.
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“But their rigorous training means they are more than equipped for these difficult situations and they will only ever use a Taser or firearm as an absolute last resort when the threat to life or from harm is very real and very imminent.
“In the wake of any incident, their response and use of weapons will rightly be assessed in great detail, and the impact this can have on the professional and personal life of an officer cannot be underestimated.”
There were 2,596 incidents requiring the support of Taser-trained officers – but the devices were only used 24 times.
Armed officers carried out 768 arrests, completed 7,872 hours of training and attended 14,580 non-firearms incidents.
Ch Insp Melton added: “The fact that out of 2,596 incidents requiring the support of Taser-trained officers, only 24 actually involved a Taser being fired, shows the care and consideration taken by our officers at every incident they attend.”
Officers are also responsible for carrying out close protection duties and escorts for VIPs, and can escort suspects regarded as dangerous to prison or court.
They are trained to use Tasers, side-arms including the Glock 17, and long-barrelled weapons including Heckler and Koch G36.