Police chief defends plan to arm every single frontline officer with Tasers

Extra protection: Tasers will be issued to every frontline officer in one police force in response to a "sickening trend" of attacks on the emergency services.

Tasers are to be issued to every frontline police officer in response to a “sickening trend” of violence against the emergency services.

Northamptonshire Chief Constable Nick Adderley said the decision to issue the electroshock weapons had not been taken lightly.

According to a parliamentary briefing, there were 1,044 frontline officers in the force as of March this year.

Recent figures show that assaults on police have risen by a third in just four years.

Mr Adderley, who served in the Royal Navy before joining the police, said the weapons will be given to all officers who want one.

The announcement follows the death of Pc Andrew Harper in Berkshire last week as he responded to reports of a burglary.

This is the latest incident in which an officer has been harmed while on duty.

Adderley said: “Enough is enough. Every week, I am made aware of more and more sickening attacks on my officers – they are spat at, assaulted on a daily basis, and are being exposed to increasing levels of violence when they are deployed to incidents.

“No-one comes to work to be assaulted and I want to make it crystal clear that my officers certainly don’t.

“It’s time to give all frontline officers the ability to defend themselves and defend members of the public, which involves equipping them with more than a baton, handcuffs and a can of pepper spray.”

Sky News revealed in June that police fired Tasers at children as young as 13, elderly people including a 77-year-old pensioner and at least 37 dogs between January 2016 and November 2018.

Amnesty International warned at the time that the weapons were not "toy guns" and urged officers to stop firing them at people at greater risk of serious health problems and even death.

How a Taser works. See story POLICE Taser. Infographic PA Graphics

Adderly believes the decision will send a clear message to those who have no respect for law and order and think attacking police officers is acceptable.

“My officers in Northamptonshire have a right to feel safe, supported and adequately equipped when they are deployed to incidents.

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“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I sat here and didn’t take the steps necessary to give them the equipment that could save their lives and the lives of the public we serve.”

It will take 18 months to train and equip the officers and cost around £600 for each of the 300 officers, he added.

Tragic: Pc Harper was killed last week while responding to a suspected "burglary". (Facebook)

Earlier this month, Pc Stuart Outten was attacked with a machete in Leyton, east London, but managed to use his Taser despite being stabbed in the head.

While West Midlands Police Pc Gareth Phillips was run over with his patrol car in Birmingham.

Issuing Tasers is a matter for each individual police force, but Police Federation of England and Wales national chairman John Apter said: “We should ensure every officer who wants to carry a Taser can do so.

“Officer safety should never come second to balancing the books.”

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