Police to have 8,000 more Tasers at their disposal after £6.5m funding confirmed
Almost 8,000 more Tasers could be deployed by police on the streets of England and Wales after the Home Office confirmed £6.5 million will be spent on new stun guns.
The final number has been scaled down following an announcement last September which declared that more than 10,000 extra devices would be made available.
The bout of fresh funding follows the sensational resignation of the Home Office’s top civil servant, Sir Philip Rutnam, on Saturday.
He launched a stinging attack on Home Secretary Priti Patel and her conduct, and said he intends to sue the Government for constructive dismissal.
Police forces have been able to bid for £10 million of ring-fenced Taser cash since January.
A total of 41 applied, the Home Office confirmed, with all of them set to receive the amount of funding requested to buy new Tasers.
Money left over – around £3.3 million – will be spent on tackling serious violence and the “county lines” drugs problem, the department said.
Police officers in London alone will have an additional 2,380 Tasers at their disposal after the Metropolitan Police was granted close to £2 million worth of funding for the electrical weapons.
West Midlands Police will order 250 extra Tasers while Greater Manchester Police applied to purchase 100 more.
Cabinet minister Ms Patel said: “Our brave police officers put themselves in harm’s way to protect us all and Taser is a vital option in dangerous situations.
“This funding forms part of our commitment to ensure forces have the powers, resources and tools they need to keep themselves and the public safe.”
In January, it was revealed that the highest number of Tasers on record were fired by police during a 12-month recording period between 2018-2019.
The weapons were fired on 2,500 occasions between April 1 2018 and March 31 2019.
Civil rights groups warned last year, after the initial funding announcement was first made, that the increase in supply of Tasers could make their use “routine”.
Campaign group Liberty said: “Tasers can and do kill.
“Arming every officer will normalise the use of Taser in routine police encounters, which risks escalating, rather than reducing, violence on our streets and will further corrode the fractured relationship between police and the communities they serve.”
The Home Office said funding applications from forces were based on the threats and risks in their local areas.
Police and Crime Commissioners had to outline how many additional officers they planned to train to use Tasers when applying for the money, said a department spokesman.
From the initial £10 million fund, £150,000 has been allocated to training for Taser instructors.
John Apter, national chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales, said: “Taser is an essential piece of equipment which has saved many police officers from serious injury or worse.
“Policing is dangerous and unpredictable, my colleagues need all the support they can get and I hope this extra funding will make a difference.”
Official figures published last year demonstrated a 27% rise in the number of assaults on Pcs resulting in injury since 2018.
Among the high-profile recent attacks on police officers was the death of Thames Valley Pc Andrew Harper, 28, who was killed in August while responding to reports of a burglary in Berkshire.
Earlier in the same month, Pc Gareth Phillips, a 42-year-old West Midlands Police traffic officer, suffered life-changing injuries when he was run over by a suspected car thief in Birmingham.
Katy Bourne, chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, said: “Taser is one of a number of well-proven tactical options available to police officers when dealing with an incident with the potential for conflict and we welcome the additional funding for it.”