Blunkett concern over Tasered kids

Published: Wednesday 25th February 2015 by The News Editor

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The man who introduced Taser stun guns in England and Wales has said it is time to review their use.

Former home secretary David Blunkett called for a rethink after figures showed more than 400 children were Tasered by police in one year.

According to the Home Office Taser database, 431 children had a Taser used against them in 2013 – a 37% increase on the previous year. The figures were released following a Freedom of Information request by BBC Radio 5 live Breakfast.

The statistics show the youngest person to have a Taser drawn against them was 11 while the youngest person fired on was 14. The oldest person to have one pointed at them was 85 and the oldest person fired on was 82.

Mr Blunkett, who was in office when the use of Tasers by the police was authorised, told the programme: “This is a moment, perhaps, to take a step back and to get chief constables and police and crime commissioners together across England and Wales and to say to them, ‘Perhaps we can take a further look at who is authorised, in what circumstances, and whether there are alternatives that can be used’.

“I think it’s time for a review that incorporates the use of Tasers with advice and support on how to deal with difficult situations. For a youngster, 11 years old, a Taser is not in my view an appropriate way of dealing with a situation which clearly must have been out of hand, but where we need to train people to use much more traditional alternatives.”

The figures do not cover all incidents where Tasers were used as the age of those involved is not always recorded. The figures are not normally made public and have not been approved as official statistics.

The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) says under-18s are involved in a lot of violent crime and any use has to be justifiable in court.

Commander Neil Basu of the Metropolitan Police, the ACPO national policing lead for Tasers, said there were individual incidents involving the very young, but “we have to remember that children can commit violent crime too”.

“The police are paid to intervene in those situations and Taser can be an appropriate use of force. If that 14 year old is committing a violent act towards a member of the public or to an officer, or if they are self-harming, then our job is to make sure that that stops in the safest way possible. And in certain circumstances Taser is that option,” he said

Earlier this month the Police Federation voted for all uniformed officers to be issued with Tasers. But Iain Gould, a solicitor at DPP Law who specialises in cases involving the police, says he has seen a number of cases involving claims of inappropriate use of the weapons.

He said: “My concern is with mission creep. Several years ago Tasers were deployed to certain trained firearms officers. We now have a situation where routine rank and file officers are being given Tasers to use. My concern is that it has got out of hand and what we are seeing is effectively militarisation by stealth.”

:: BBC Radio 5 live Breakfast today from 6am.

Published: Wednesday 25th February 2015 by The News Editor

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