UK: Increasing police use of Tasers poses "threat to life"

A new report aims "to inform members of the public of the threat to life posed by the increasing adoption of Tasers by police forces across England and Wales," and in particular by Greater Manchester Police, who have taken up use of the 'less-lethal' weapons with gusto.

See: A Growing Threat to Life: Taser Usage by Greater Manchester Police (Resistance Lab, link):

"The first part of the report is dedicated to an examination of these broad concerns surrounding the increased access and use of Tasers by police in England and Wales since 2003. As a Greater Manchester-based organisation we are especially concerned with how these developments have impacted the communities in which we live, study and work. With this in mind, in the second part of the report we focus on the use of Tasers by GMP drawing on statistical data followed in the third part by the personal accounts of those – including Jordan Begley and Michael Gilchrist – who have been directly impacted. In concluding, we identify several key areas of concern that demand the immediate attention of policymakers, legal professionals, advocacy groups and members of the public.​"

Executive summary of the report

  • Human rights and medical experts have raised significant concerns about the health and safety risks associated with Tasers including the potential for cardiac complications leading to death.
  • At least 18 people have died after a Taser was discharged against them by police in England and Wales since 2003. Inquests have identified the use of a Taser as a cause or contributing factor in the deaths of at least three individuals – Marc Cole, Jordan Begley and Andrew Pimlott.
  • The use of Tasers by police forces across England and Wales has increased by more than 500% over the last decade up from 3,573 incidents in 2009/10 to 23,451 in 2018/19.
  • In the last year alone, Greater Manchester Police’s use of Tasers increased 73% from 832 incidents in 2017/18 to 1,442 incidents in 2018/19. This rate of increase exceeded the national average of 39% as well as that of comparable forces such as the Metropolitan Police which reported a 49% increase in the use of Tasers.
  • In 2018/19, Greater Manchester Police reported more incidents involving Tasers (1,442), whether discharged or not, than any other force with the exception of the Metropolitan Police.
  • In 2018/19, Black people were subject to the use of Taser by Greater Manchester Police at nearly 4 times the rate of white people.
  • In 2018/19, Greater Manchester Police reported more incidents involving the use of Tasers against children under the age of 18 than any other force with the exception of the Metropolitan Police. In total, Greater Manchester Police reported 118 such incidents including eight against children under the age of 11.
  • In 2018/19, Greater Manchester Police reported that individuals perceived by the officer to have either physical or mental disabilities constituted 210 cases, 15% of total incidents involving Tasers.

See: A Growing Threat to Life: Taser Usage by Greater Manchester Police (Resistance Lab, link)

 

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