England

Dozens of UK police officers injured using stingers

Police stinger Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Stingers are used by police to burst the tyres of vehicles, usually when they are being driven by suspected criminals

Dozens of police officers have been injured while using so-called stinger devices, the BBC has learned.

Officers have suffered whiplash, fractures, cuts and back injuries while deploying the devices, which are used to burst the tyres of vehicles.

In October, PC Dave Phillips was killed when he was hit by a vehicle while using a stinger in Merseyside.

Police Service Northern Ireland recorded 14 injuries - higher than any other force that provided figures.

Data released to the BBC under the Freedom of Information Act revealed 49 officers from 15 police forces in the UK were injured between January 2012 and October 2015. A further 24 forces said they could not provide results, meaning the true figure is likely to be even higher.

'Very dangerous'

Peter Singleton, chairman of Merseyside Police Federation, said forces could look at improving safety procedures.

"I'm sure it will be discussed," he said. "We are always seeking ways to develop and improve our systems.

"Any kind of situation like this, certainly when there has been a fatality, it will be reviewed and looked at.

"But you can't escape the fact that police work is a very dangerous environment."

Image copyright Merseyside Police
Image caption Merseyside PC Dave Phillips, a married father-of-two, was killed after he and a colleague used a stinger device in October

Merseyside Police said five officers were injured during 19 uses of stingers over the period since the start of 2012.

Nine officers from West Midlands Police were hurt, including one who suffered a deep laceration to a hand, and another left with "temporary hearing impairment".

Greater Manchester Police was only able to provide information for 2015, during which three officers were injured during 21 stinger deployments.

In addition to the 14 injuries recorded by Police Service Northern Ireland, one officer was involved in a "near miss".

Of the other forces that responded Hampshire, Leicester, Avon and Somerset, Gwent, Sussex, Nottingham and Bedfordshire, each recorded one injury.

When are police stingers used?

Stingers can be deployed by police officers after drivers fail to stop when required to do so - resulting in a pursuit.

They are used only by trained officers after authorisation from a senior officer managing the pursuit.

Officers must conduct a thorough risk assessment before beginning a pursuit, considering factors including the potential risk to road users, the seriousness of the suspected offence, and whether immediate action is necessary.

Stingers can be used in the interests of safety and to bring about a swift resolution.

Source: Association of Chief Police Officers

Cambridgeshire, Surrey, Cleveland and South Wales each recorded two and Cumbria had three officers injured.

Norfolk, Suffolk, Northumbria, Durham, Warwickshire, North Wales and Dyfed-Powys police forces recorded no injuries.

Merseyside Police declined to comment on whether the force had reviewed safety procedures following PC Phillips's death.

A spokesman said the issue was likely to be scrutinised as part of a forthcoming inquest, and during the trial of a man accused of his murder.

He also said four of the force's injured officers were harmed during training, and not during active duty.

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