Black people 'three times more likely to be Tasered'


Black people are three times more likely to have a Taser used against them than white people, according to Home Office data.

The weapon was used by police more than 38,000 times in the past five years in England and Wales.

More than 12% of cases involved a black person, while only 4% of the population is black.

The figures also show a rise in Tasers being used on children, with 158 cases last year involving someone under 16.

In one instance a police officer removed his Taser from the holster in an incident involving a nine-year-old boy in Hampshire.

In another a Taser was drawn against a 91-year-old man, according to the Home Office figures. Suffolk Police, the Force allegedly involved, said they could find no record of it.

Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu claimed the majority of the incidents did not involve the use of force.

"Only three types of the seven uses of Taser actually involve applying force. In 80% of situations it's never even used and it stops the violence there and then," he said.

Mr Basu, National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) spokesman on Tasers, said officers had "world class training" and Tasers were only used in situations "where there is violence or there is impending violence".

"I don't think policing has been surprised by disproportionality in the criminal justice system for many years. Explaining it is a different matter," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"I don't think it's a simple equation about colour because if you are Asian, like me, you are less likely to be subject to a Taser than a white person."

Stun guns were drawn, aimed or fired by police 38,135 times between 2010 and 2015, a BBC Freedom of Information request found.

In 80% of cases the weapon was not discharged.

The ethnicity of the person involved was recorded in 36,038 incidents and on 4,582 occasions a black person of African-Caribbean origin or mixed white and African-Caribbean origin was involved.

A Taser was used against someone under the age of 18 in 522 cases, compared with 349 times in 2010.

In February this year the Police Federation voted for all uniformed officers to be issued with Tasers.

A spokesman for the NPCC said: "Every use of Taser is reported and scrutinised by a supervisor and officers are personally accountable to the law each time their Taser is drawn.

"Taser is one of many tactical options a police officer can use."