Northampton

Northamptonshire Police to arm all officers with Tasers

Taser Image copyright PA
Image caption Northamptonshire Police will issue Tasers to all 1,044 officers who want one

Tasers will be issued to every frontline officer in a police force in response to a "rising level of violence" against emergency services.

Northamptonshire Chief Constable Nick Adderley said the decision to issue the electric stun weapons was not taken lightly.

The announcement follows the death of PC Andrew Harper in Berkshire as he responded to reports of a burglary.

Mr Adderley said the weapons would be issued to all officers who want one.

According to a Parliamentary briefing, there were 1,044 frontline officers in Northamptonshire Police as of March this year.

'Time to act'

The force said it had seen almost a 50% increase in attacks on police officers in the past two years.

Mr Adderley, who served in the Royal Navy before joining the police, said: "When I'm writing statements for courts where an officer has had his ear bitten off, where he's had his finger bitten off, where she's been punched in the face and thrown down the stairs, we can see that level of violence rising daily and it's time now to act."

He said it would take 18 months to train and equip the officers and would cost about £220,000.

Mr Adderley previously called for Tasers to be standard issue within three years, but said he was "not prepared to wait".

"Here in Northamptonshire, we can have officers and staff who are 50 minutes away from any kind of support, and if a member of the public is attacking them or they're being attacked, then they should have a response to that," he said.

A Taser fires two darts that release a 50,000-volt charge to temporarily paralyse the target.

'Forward thinking'

Mr Adderley said he would not be in favour of arming the British police, but Tasers were a "less lethal option to deal with the prevailing threat that we see growing on a daily basis".

Members of his team said on Twitter they had a "forward thinking, up-to-date chief who genuinely cares about his staff".

John Apter, national chairman of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said it was positive to see a chief constable "speak out so frankly and make a bold move".

"Wellbeing needs to be more than just a poster on the wall, it is paramount that officers receive the right tools to do their jobs," he said.

"It is time for all chiefs to step up to the plate to make this pledge and do this now because our members deserve better."

The Home Office said Tasers were an "important tactical option" for officers facing violent situations, and it was for chief constables to determine the number of devices and specially trained officers they need.

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