Officers given Tasers in response to ‘increasing threats of violence’

Hundreds more Police Scotland officers will be given access to Tasers as the force revealed its three-year plan to address changing demand.

Dec 15, 2017

Hundreds more Police Scotland officers will be given access to Tasers as the force revealed its three-year plan to address changing demand. Around 500 local policing officers will be equipped with the new X2 Tasers following a rise in the number of assaults. The announcement will roughly double the number of officers trained to use the devices as only firearms officers are currently allowed access to them. Rules preventing armed response officers responding to routine calls will also be scrapped – and the force will invest in drones and ‘cyber hubs’ to implement its new service delivery strategy. “Our officers are facing increasing threats of violence from people with knives and other bladed weapons. We’ve also seen an increase in the number of officers attacked while carrying out their everyday duties,” said Deputy Chief Constable Johnny Gwynne. “Ultimately, this move is about keeping the public safe, which is at the heart of what we do.” Almost 970 officers have been assaulted this year compared with 764 in 2016. Last month, the Scottish Police Federation (SPF) released survey data showing nine in ten officers wanted access to a Taser to better protect themselves from violence. Only Police Scotland’s firearms officers are currently allowed to use the devices, but the force has just 600 officers trained to armed response standard and 400 in active firearms roles. The new Taser training will begin in May 2018 and the officers are expected to be operational by August. Both the Taser plans and the removal of firearms restrictions will be presented to the Scottish Police Authority on Tuesday (December 19). Meanwhile, Police Scotland has also announced its intention to purchase new drones to replace force helicopters in rural and remote areas as part of its Serving a Changing Scotland strategy. The devices will primarily be used to search for missing people. The force also plans to invest £3.6 million in state-of-the-art cyber hubs containing specialist teams to address rising demand for digital investigations. Another 40 ‘cyber kiosks’ will be set up across the country to help officers decide if mobile devices need to be submitted for forensic analysis, and a consultation will be launched on a wider rollout of body-worn video technology. Deputy Chief Constable Iain Livingstone said: “Our officers and staff across Scotland do an excellent job protecting the public every day, but the demands on policing have been changing. “Our Serving a Changing Scotland strategy was developed to address the challenges we now face and to enable the police service to become operationally and financially sustainable.” The Taser announcement was welcomed by SPF vice chair David Hamilton, who said: “The extreme violence and dangers police officers face on a daily basis are poorly understood by those outwith the police service. “Far too often police officers are seriously assaulted and injured when dealing with violent events. “Whilst not the panacea to all the threats we face, evidence from across the world shows Taser reduces assaults and injuries considerably, and leads to safer outcomes for police officers, the public and offenders.”

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