A police force serving the country’s safest area have been given the public’s approval to arm many more of its officers with tasers after a poll found the move would make people feel safer.
A survey by the North Yorkshire Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner of more than 4,000 residents concluded there was overall support for a further roll-out of the weapon “to aid officer safety and to allow the police to do a better job”.
In a report to the North Yorkshire and York Police, Fire and Crime Panel, commissioner Julia Mulligan stated some 66 per cent of respondents said they would feel safer if every police officer in their community was armed with Taser and 93 per cent said they trusted police to use Tasers responsibly.
The findings come just months after neighbouring force Durham made tasers available to every frontline officer and the Police Federation calling for forces to allow all officers to carry a Taser if they wish to do so.
The commissioner’s report, which also comes three months after the Office for National Statistics concluded North Yorkshire remains the lowest crime area in England and Wales despite a nine per cent rise in recorded offences, states respondents to the survey agreed less about the extent of the roll out of tasers.
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It states: “While there was support for neighbourhood police officers to carry them, there was some hesitancy, with, for example, two in five councillors and a quarter of the public feeling that neighbourhood officers shouldn’t carry them.
“This was reflected in whether it should be mandatory, with most councillors and over a third of the public feeling it should be down to individual officer choice or only available within teams as back up or within specialist teams.
“Moreover, there was a 50/50 split amongst those police officers responding.”
Given that the nature of policing in the UK is by consent, Mrs Mulligan said a direct survey of police officers should be undertaken to fully understand their view on this before any mandatory roll-out be considered.
If Chief Constable Lisa Winward approves routinely arming officers with tasers the initial scheme would cost about £900,000, plus £200,00 a year for ongoing training and upgrades.