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Tasers to be issued to hundreds more Met Police officers after knife crime surge

The decision was taken following an increase in violent crime in London.

Britain’s largest police force is to equip hundreds more officers with Tasers after a surge in violence and knife crime.

Scotland Yard announced the devices will be issued to 1,867 extra frontline personnel, bringing the total number trained and able to carry the equipment to more than 6,400.

Metropolitan Police commissioner Cressida Dick took the decision following an increase in violent crime in London, including offences involving knifes, as well as a rise in assaults against officers.

In a trend replicated around the country, figures show knife crime jumped by almost a quarter in the capital in 2016/17.

Assaults against Met officers increased from 2,211 in 2014 to 2,486 in 2015 and to 2,676 last year.

Ms Dick said: “Keeping the public safe from harm is at the heart of our job. With this uplift, my officers will be better-equipped to protect the public and themselves.

“We know that the mere presence of a Taser is often enough to defuse a dangerous situation and often get a suspect to drop their weapon if they’re armed. Tasers reduce the need for physical contact and also the risk of unintended or unnecessary injuries to all parties.

“With the roll-out of body-worn cameras to every uniformed officer, the public can also rest assured that the use of a Taser is correctly recorded and monitored and that the use of it is subject to comprehensive scrutiny.”

Use of the weapons has been at the centre of controversy in the past after a number of deaths.

Figures show forces in England and Wales deployed Tasers at a rate of 30 times a day last year, although the number of instances when the devices were discharged fell.

Surveys carried out by police associations have indicated there is strong support for Tasers to be issued to more frontline officers.

Following the Met’s announcement, the Police Federation of England and Wales called for other forces to follow suit.

Steve White, chairman of the federation, said: “The dangerous nature of policing is something we’ve seen play out very publicly in recent weeks.

“But these attacks aside, there’s no escaping the facts – violent crime and police assaults are on the rise. Forces need support to stem the flow and this is a step in the right direction.

“But it can’t be done with a click of the fingers. The rigorous training officers undertake to use Taser takes time and costs money.

“Speaking with the Home Secretary this morning, I made it clear that the Government must commit to assisting forces in making it possible to train more officers to use Taser.”

Earlier this year, a new Taser model was authorised for use by forces in England and Wales. The X2 version can be fired twice if it misses or does not subdue the target on the first go. The Met said it has used Tasers “safely and effectively” since 2003.

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