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Russell Webster

Russell Webster

Criminal Justice & substance misuse expert and author of this blog.

How often do police user tasers?

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Police use of tasers

We can be rightly proud of the very low number of police shootings in England compared to most other countries. In recent years, the taser has become a key element in the way police defuse potentially violent situations without resorting to firearms, although the rapid growth in the use of tasers over the last few years has attracted considerable criticism.

Earlier this month (9 July 2015) the Home Office published the most detailed statistics yet on the use of tasers, covering 2014.

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Categories of use

There are six definitions and levels of different types of taser use ranging from “drawn” where an officer unholsters the taser, showing the person to be apprehended that it could be used, all the way through to “fired” where the taser is fired with a live cartridge and incapacitates the individual. The full definitions are provided below:

taser definitions

The statistics show that the police used tasers 10,062 times in 2014 (a decrease of 3% compared with 2013). However, in 80% of cases, the taser was not actually discharged. Tasers were fully fired on 1,724 occasions, with “drive stun” and “angle-drive stun” taking place a further 256 times.

Full details are shown in the official chart below:

taser figure 3

Conclusion

Whatever you think about the frequency with which tasers are used in this country (I think less than 1300 discharges per year is quite a modest figure for a predominantly unarmed police force),  I sincerely think the Home Office is to be commended for sharing these data in such detail.

 

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