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More than 80% of police officers want to carry stun guns such as Tasers – poll

A poll of thousands of officers showed 81% want the devices to make them feel safer while on duty.

A survey of nearly 7,000 police officers has shown more than 80% want to carry stun guns like Tasers (Durham Police/PA)
A survey of nearly 7,000 police officers has shown more than 80% want to carry stun guns like Tasers (Durham Police/PA)

By Margaret Davis, PA Crime Correspondent

More than eight out of 10 police officers want to carry stun guns such as Tasers and would feel safer with the devices, a new poll suggests.

Research carried out by the Police Federation for radio station LBC found that 89% of 6,800 officers who responded would like to carry Taser or similar electroshock weapons.

Of those questioned, 81% said it would make them feel safer while on duty. In total, 97% of officers said colleagues should be allowed to routinely carry the devices.

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The death of Pc Andrew Harper reignited the debate over whether all officers should carry stun guns (Thames Valley Police/PA)

The survey comes after a series of high profile attacks on police, including the death of Pc Andrew Harper, 28, who was killed while responding to reports of a burglary in Berkshire on August 15.

Earlier in the same month, Pc Gareth Phillips, a 42-year-old West Midlands Police traffic officer, suffered life-changing injuries when he was run over by a suspected car thief in Birmingham.

And Metropolitan Police constable Stuart Outten, 28, was left with head and hand injuries after challenging a motor offences suspect allegedly armed with a machete in Leyton, east London.

The attacks prompted renewed calls from the Police Federation for chief constables to allow more officers to carry a Taser.

I travel around the country and often patrol with my colleagues in different forces across England and Wales. They are telling me that they often feel vulnerable and isolated without this vital protective equipment Chairman of the Police Federation John Apter

LBC has launched a campaign calling for the Home Office to ring-fence funding for a national roll-out of stun guns.

On Monday the National Police Chiefs’ Council commissioned an urgent review of officer safety, including equipment.

But while chairman Martin Hewitt said chief constables are increasing the number of Taser-trained officers, he stressed: “Taser is not the answer to all violent or threatening situations.”

Chairman of the Police Federation John Apter said: “We have seen violent crime soar and an increase in the number of assaults on police officers.

“I travel around the country and often patrol with my colleagues in different forces across England and Wales. They are telling me that they often feel vulnerable and isolated without this vital protective equipment.

“It’s time for the Government to set aside ring-fenced funding for Taser, and for chief officers to do what is necessary for their officers to be able to protect themselves and the public and roll out Taser to all frontline officers who wish to carry it.”

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Durham chief constable Jo Farrell, who has said every frontline officer who wants a Taser will be able to carry one (Durham Police/PA)

In the wake of the latest attacks on officers, Northamptonshire Police chief constable Nick Adderley announced his force would become the first in Britain to issue Tasers to officers as standard because the risk they face on the job had risen “dramatically”.

And a day later, Durham Police’s new chief constable Jo Farrell said her staff would be issued with Tasers if they want one.

The latest official figures show a 27% rise in the number of assaults on Pcs resulting in injury in the last year.

According to the Office for National Statistics there were 10,399 incidents recorded between April 2018 and March this year – 2,242 more than the 8,157 in the same period the previous year.

Last year the maximum jail term for people who attack emergency services workers was increased from six to 12 months.

A Home Office spokesman said: “We are working to ensure the police have the resources, tools and powers they need to keep themselves and the public safe.

“The Prime Minister and Home Secretary have announced the recruitment of 20,000 more officers and police funding has increased by over £1 billion this year, including money from council tax and to tackle serious violence.

“Taser is an important option and all 43 forces have officers who can use it. As with the deployment of all police resources, it is down to chief constables and police and crime commissioners to decide how many of their officers are trained to use Taser.”

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