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TASER REVIEW: RESPONSE FROM SOUTH WALES POLICE AND CRIME COMMISSIONER

The Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales Police, Alun Michael, has responded today to calls for a national review into the use of Tasers.

This follows the release of figures showing the number of times Tasers were used on children. However in South Wales there have been no such incidents.

Alun Michael, Police and Crime Commissioner for South Wales Police, said: “In places where there seems to be a problem, a local review may make sense, but the problem with generalisations at a national level is that we often end up with time and energy going into issues which aren’t a problem locally.  In South Wales in 2013 and 2014,  there was not a single incident in which a Taser was used on someone under the age of 16 .

“We are not giving a Taser to every police officer in South Wales but we are making them available to local police teams – remember that there are strict rules and every time a Taser is deployed there is a review by a senior officer.  Tasers are never used casually and “deployment” can refer to a Taser being taken to an incident, the Taser being taken out, the Taser being aimed using the red dot” focus and the Taser actually being discharged.  It’s only a minority of deployments that end up with the Taser being discharged.

“It’s also worth understanding the context. In many circumstances, such as tackling someone with a knife or a crowbar, using a Taser is safer and less likely to cause harm than a physical intervention – safer for police officers, safer for members of the public and actually safer for the offender too. There are circumstances in which this may apply to someone under the age of 18 or even 16.

“We now have a system of local decision-making, so the Chief Constable takes operational decisions but he accounts to me. A month ago, he and I discussed the use of Tasers in South Wales and I’m content with our arrangements. Tasers are available to local policing teams but the same tight requirements for reviewing any deployment or use will continue to be strictly applied.”

Jon Stratford, Assistant Chief Constable for South Wales Police, added: “South Wales Police has made Taser available to front line officers, in addition to our specially trained firearms officers, which will lead to an increase in the number of deployments.

“However, while this increase in deployments is reflected nationally, it would be wrong to generalise and make comparisons between Forces. In South Wales the reality remains that Taser use by officers is still extremely low when compared to the overall number of arrests and we have had no incidents where a Taser has been used on someone under the age of 16.

“Officers carrying Tasers receive a high level of training and on the vast majority of occasions the device is not discharged. Its mere presence will often act as a very effective deterrent. Taser is one of many tools and tactics available to help officers manage violent situations in a way which keeps the public safe. Every time a Taser is used operationally there is a review of the circumstances by a senior officer.”