2,000 more police in London to be armed with Tasers


Nearly 2,000 extra police officers in London are to be armed with Taser stun guns to meet the threat of terrorism and knife crime, Scotland Yard announced today.

The move will mean more than 6,400 officers in London will now be equipped with Taser, nearly a third of all the Met’s frontline officers.

Met chief Cressida Dick said her decision to increase the number of Taser armed officers was in response to an increase in violence and knife crime in London but she said the weapon would also be another tool in the fight against terror.

She said : “There are undoubtedly situations in which people who are carrying a knife and are intent on a terrorist motivated attack might be dealt with very effectively by Taser and indeed we have seen that in the past few weeks.

This is not a direct response to that but I’m sure it will assist with that.”

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2,000 more police are to be equipped with Taser (PA)

She pointed to the man arrested on Westminster Bridge last week who was allegedly stopped while carrying a knife near the entrance to Parliament.   

A 27-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of terrorism offences but appeared in court today charged with possession of an offensive weapon. He was released without charge on any terrorist offence.

The commissioner also revealed that police chiefs were considering a rise in the number of officers armed with lethal firearms.

She told the Standard: “As a result of what has happened we are talking both to colleagues across the country and to the Government about whether we need any change in our armed policing numbers or posture. 

“As you will have seen at Borough market we have very highly trained, very mobile, highly equipped people who are able to respond incredibly quickly, but we need to see if there is a requirement for anything further.”

Met Police Federation chairman Ken Marsh said if the first officers on the scene of the London Bridge terror attack had been armed with Taser they could have ended the attack more quickly. 

An unarmed British Transport Police officer took on the three knifemen armed only with a baton while an off duty Met cop came to his aid and fought them with his bare hands. Both were seriously injured.

Mr Marsh said : “We welcome these extra Taser officers given the scale of the threats that we are facing. I think there is also a greater understanding of why we need Taser because of these threats.”

The extra Tasers are to be handed out to borough response officers who are often the first on the scene of violent attacks and major incidents.  

Around 1,730 of the newly-trained Taser officers will be from boroughs, with the remainder will be based with specialist units. 

Ms Dick added : “It’s a less lethal option so all our armed officers will carry Taser and taser in some situations it will save the suspect’s life as otherwise they might have been shot. It is always the preferred option.” 

She added: “We have had an increase in violent crime, including knife crime and also an increase in assaults on officers.

“ When I arrived I said I wanted to be a commissioner whose officers were as well protected as they could be. The very drawing of the Taser allows the incident to be resolved very quickly. With this uplift, my officers will be better equipped to protect the public and themselves.”

All firearms officers will carry Taser and Ms Dick added: “Taser in some situations it will save the suspect’s life as otherwise they might have been shot. It is always the preferred option.”

Tasers, which deliver an electric shock to temporarily incapacitate a suspect, were introduced in Britain in 2003 to help police tackle armed suspects. However, concerns have been raised about deaths and serious injuries connected with their use.

In 2016, Taser was deployed, meaning it was drawn or fired, a total of 2,071 times in London. On most occasions – around 1,810 – it was not fired but pointed at suspects. Tasers were fired on 13% of occasions, a level that has remained steady for the past three years.

The announcement came as a former Met commissioner said it would be “an absurdity” to further cut the force’s funding after recent events in London.

Lord Blair called for a rethink over plans to cut hundreds of millions of pounds from the force’s budget, saying this would leave the Met a quarter of the size it was when he left office in 2008.

The Met, which has made £600 million cuts in the last four years, is expected to face a further £400m of savings by 2021. Mayor Sadiq Khan said it could mean the loss of a further 8,000 officers. 

He said police had been forced to cancel leave to boost reassurance patrols around London following the Finsbury Park attack.

Ken Marsh, of the Met Police Federation, said the Met had not received mutual aid and officers were having rest days cancelled. “Eventually they will be completely exhausted,” he said. “ If we go on like this we will have to re-think how we do things.”

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Source : http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/2000-more-police-in-london-to-be-armed-with-tasers-a3568766.html

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