Concern as Met Police use of Tasers 'almost doubles'
- 13 November 2013
- From the section London
The number of times Metropolitan Police officers have fired Tasers this year has almost doubled, figures have shown.
The stun guns were deployed 1,746 times and fired in 212 instances. Last year Tasers were fired 136 times when they were deployed on 713 situations.
Over the last 12 months 40 non-firearms officers in every London borough have been trained to use the weapon.
Critics say increased use could lead to injuries or death. The Met said its officers were well-trained.
According to the figures obtained from the Met through a Freedom of Information request, the weapon was deployed 378 times and fired 112 times in 2011.
When Taser was first introduced into the Met in 2003 it was only CO19 (firearms officers) who were trained, followed by the Territorial Support Group. Now it has been rolled out to borough officers.
Currently, about 3,000 officers are trained to use the weapon - roughly 40 officers in each borough but only four are on duty at any one time.
Sophie Khan, from the charity Police Action Centre, said: "I am surprised that it's almost doubled.
"I think it's a concern that the public haven't been consulted and there has been this massive roll-out of Tasers. which could lead to a life-threatening incident or even a death."
Jenny Jones, Green Party London Assembly Member who is on the Assembly's Police and Crime Committee said: "My biggest fear is that once more officers have more Tasers it means that they will use [them] in a situation where it's a first resort at calming somebody down.
"They should be a last resort where there is a life-threatening situation against the officers or against a member of the public."
Officers undergo a three-day training on using Tasers and every year their skills and judgement are retested.
Met Police Commander Neil Basu said: "Of course there could be a risk, of course at some point in the future somebody could be seriously injured or somebody might die but we train our officers to use them in only the most appropriate circumstances and to use them with minimum of force necessary to stop violence and prevent injury."
Last month London Assembly's Police and Crime Committee said Scotland Yard must ensure Tasers were only used as a "last resort" after the force decided to triple the number of officers trained to use the weapon.
The Met said it "carefully considered issues of public and officer safety in its decision to make Tasers available to more officers".