The Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police has today announced that the force is offering additional optional training to its officers in order to increase its Taser capability in the county.
Wiltshire Police currently has 160 Tasers and is offering instruction to officers who successfully apply for additional training in an effort to help maintain public and officer safety by making a greater number of the existing devices able to be deployed at any one time.
Tasers are used by trained Police Officers in a number of ways, many of which involve no direct physical force to be used on a person.
They can be drawn from the holster, aimed at the subject, have the ‘red dot’ pointed at the subject with the laser sight or activated so that an electric current is ‘arced’ at the front of the device, all of which can resolve incidents.
Home Office figures released last week showed a drop in the number of times Tasers were discharged nationally.
Chief Constable Mike Veale said: “The use of Taser has been widely debated and I have carefully considered the options.
“I feel that by giving officers the option to carry Taser we are giving them the choice to use the tools available to us at this time to keep both keep the public and themselves safe.
“However, let me make it clear that I see the rollout of Tasers as a preventative measure not an aggressive tool.
“I also want to make it clear that it is not a tool to default to at the earliest opportunity; it needs to be used with precision, wisdom, proportionality and measure.
“I want to have the right resources in the right place at the right time with the right skills and accreditation to deal with the threat, risk and harm faced within communities.
“We have, geographically, a very large force with a huge degree of rurality which often leaves officers and staff working single crewed and on occasions feeling vulnerable to the dangers they may be facing.
“This decision is something which I hope will give our colleagues more confidence and courage to remain on the front foot so that we are able to protect our communities.
“We constantly assess the current risk and threat in the county and I believe that it is the right time to increase the training in Taser and in turn, increase our capacity.
“Although Wiltshire is one of the safest counties in the country, we still face a rise in violent crime and the threat of terrorism remains very real throughout the UK.
“Taser can be used effectively as a deterrent or as a way of ending a violent situation where someone is at risk of harm.”
In addition to increasing Taser capability, Wiltshire Police is rolling out body-worn cameras to front line officers and staff.
Mr. Veale said: “This new investment in body-worn video cameras will help us transform the way we work, allowing our officers and staff to do their jobs serving the communities of Wiltshire and Swindon with greater confidence and security.
“Our police officers and staff put themselves into volatile and dangerous situations every day and these cameras should not only act as a deterrent to those who may wish to cause them harm, but can also be used as valuable evidence when officers and staff and subjected to violence and abuse.
“It should also give the public greater confidence in our professionalism and, on the rare occasions where our service does not live up to our high standards, allow us to take action and learn from any errors or mistakes.
“These cameras are as much about the officer behind the camera as the person in front of it. They will help ensure Wiltshire Police continues to provide the high standards of service that both the Force and the people they serve expect.”