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Tasers used more often by Devon and Cornwall Police

Tasers used more often by Devon and Cornwall Police

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 7:00am 5th January 2020. (Updated at 8:02am 5th January 2020)

Tasers are being used more often by police in Devon and Cornwall, new figures reveal.

With the Home Office providing funding for an additional 10,000 officers to carry the weapons, police chiefs and representatives insist tasers are effective at de-escalating dangerous situations.

Officers in the Duchy and Devon drew their tasers 696 times in 2018-19, the latest Home Office statistics show - up from 585 the year before.

During these incidents, tasers were discharged on 85 occasions, 12% of the time.

The devices, which deliver a high-voltage electric shock, were also used to deter suspects.

In 359 cases officers aimed and partially activated the taser so a red target dot appeared on them.

Devon and Cornwall Police did not have anyone available for comment.

Officers must decide whether using a taser is legal, proportionate and necessary in a situation.

police officer

"With the Government and an increased number of chief constables backing a wider roll-out of Taser, it is unsurprising there were more incidents where this tactical option was selected.

"But the fact that the figure for instances where the Taser was drawn but not discharged remains so constant reaffirms how effective it can be in de-escalating situations.

"The red dot alone continues to be enough to diffuse the vast majority of incidents without the need to pull the trigger."

Police Federation vice-chair, Ché Donald

The figures also show Devon and Cornwall Police officers used force against suspects on 10,206 occasions in 2018-19.

This includes forcibly handcuffing someone, striking a suspect with a baton or using pepper spray.

police taser

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Matt Twist, of the National Police Chiefs' Council, said force "is rarely used" during officers' day-to-day duties.

"As the public would expect, most forms of restraint used by officers involve the use of handcuffs in order to arrest an individual," he added.

"It is no surprise that force is often used in cases where the person restrained is drunk or under the influence of drugs as experience shows these suspects can often be the most difficult and dangerous."

Matt Twist, National Police Chiefs' Council

UK police forces first trialled tasers in 2003, with a full roll-out completed a decade later.

Use of tasers, also known as conductive energy devices, has now reached a record high across England and Wales.

Forces discharged the weapons on 2,700 occasions in 2018-19, the highest annual number recorded.

During this time, the devices were unholstered in 23,500 incidents – in most cases aimed at suspects without being discharged – up 39% from the previous year.

The Home Office says the rise may reflect police forces dealing with "more incidents with the potential for conflict", or growing numbers of "CED-trained officers and CEDs available".

You can find all the source data here.

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