Surrey Police and Crime Commissioner David Munro has defended the use of Tasers after the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) expressed concerns nationally.
The IOPC has called for greater scrutiny, amid investigations into incidents where Tasers were used in London, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands.
The PCC has written to the IOPC to express his unease that the issuance of the statement ahead of a more comprehensive review could exacerbate tensions between communities and police forces during this time of national anxiety.
He cited the danger that could result if police officers are reluctant to deploy Tasers in situations where its use is objectively justified, leading to greater harm to the general public, police officers and potential recipient.
In March, he reiterated his backing for every officer who wishes to carry a Taser to be supported to do so, after the success of a joint bid for an additional 560 devices to be shared between Surrey Police and Sussex Police:
“I believe we must give our officers the necessary tools to do their job. Tasers are used as a last resort but offer valuable protection for officers who place themselves in harm’s way for the safety of our communities.
As Association of Police and Crime Commissioners national lead for Equality, Diversity and Human Rights, I believe it is absolutely right that this use is carefully monitored, including actively addressing any suspicion or instance of discrimination.
“In the vast majority of cases, the drawing of a Taser acts as a powerful deterrent without being discharged – ‘red dotting’ is highly effective at de-escalating situations that have the potential to become more dangerous. It is essential that Surrey Police officers know that we value their safety in these scenarios, and continue to support the fair and proportionate use of Tasers to protect themselves and the public.”
Every incident where a Taser is drawn in Surrey is reviewed. Joint Taser training in Surrey and Sussex has been recognised as among the best in England and Wales.
You can read a copy of the letter from the PCC here.