The Government’s pledge to provide £10 million to equip officers with Taser will provide frontline police with important protective equipment, says a Yorkshire police boss.
Brian Booth, chairman of the West Yorkshire Police Federation, made his comments after Home Secretary Priti Patel announced that up to 60 per cent of officers could be equipped with Taser and that £10 million will be given to the police service to pay for them.
Mr Booth said: “We’ve been doing a lot of campaigning with our command team and with our MPs, and it’s good that we’re being listened to at last.
“It’s a dangerous job in West Yorkshire, certainly. We have 30-50 officers assaulted every week so having this money ring-fenced for Tasers is brilliant. It won’t get spent on anything else, only Tasers, and that’s what we really need.
“It’s an effective tool and we need to get away with the thoughts that it’s a dangerous tool. It’s less dangerous than a baton.”
The Home Secretary told the Conservative Party conference the funding decision meant she was “empowering” the service.
She said: “It is the job of chief constables to make that operational decision. It is the job of the Home Secretary to empower them to do so. I am giving them that power.”
The announcement comes after the Yorkshire Post revealed officers across the county are frequently having to use Tasers due to an increase in violent attacks and hostile situations.
A Freedom of Information request revealed the frontline officers in West Yorkshire Police, used a Taser on 749 occasions during 2018. Of those 749 times, a Taser was red-dotted - pointed at someone and the laser sight active so a red dot appears on the target - 468 times. It was drawn - taken out of its holder - 142 times, and actually fired on 80 occasions.
Alarmingly, the Taser was used on 520 occasions because a perpetrator had possession of an offensive weapon and 106 times because the officer themselves was threatened with a weapon.
A total of 659 West Yorkshire Police officers are currently trained in using Taser with Assistant Chief Constable Tim Kingsman stating that the safety of officers and staff is a "significant priority for the force".
Mr Kingsman said the force had seen an increase in Taser use - not in terms of firing, but in terms of other methods of use and that officers who had faced violent situations had managed to resolve them just by having the Taser present.
He also said the force had improved recording of Taser use.